Exercise: The Key to Healthy Aging

While we all know that the aging process can’t be reversed, we can slow it down. Regular physical activity is the single most important thing to stay healthy and to delay the aging process. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “keeping physically active may add up to two to three years to an individual's life span”. 

Regular exercise and physical activity are also important to your physical and mental health. Being physically active allows you to stay independent as you age. Not only will exercise help you look and feel younger, but the benefits of regular physical activity go far beyond cardiovascular fitness and pulmonary function including1:

    • Controls blood pressure
    • Protects against diabetes
    • Wards off depression, anxiety, and insomnia
    • Enhances balance and strength (minimizing accidental falls)
    • Prevents osteoporosis
    • Decreases the risk of certain cancers
    • Maintains healthy weight
    • Decreases cholesterol
    • Improves cognition
    • Lessens the pain of osteoarthritis

It’s no surprise that exercise and regular physical activity is good for our health. The trouble is, knowing where to start and how to safely incorporate exercise into our lives. Before beginning any exercise program, it is important to consult with your primary care physician to find out what is right for you. Your physician can help you choose the most appropriate activities for you and the ones to avoid. Here is a brief overview of the four main types of exercise, sometimes called the building blocks of fitness, to consider as you plan your exercise routine with your physician:

Cardio Endurance Exercise

Cardio exercise is especially beneficial to seniors because it helps to lessen fatigue and shortness of breath while promoting independence by improving endurance for daily activities such as walking, house cleaning, and errands. There are many ways to incorporate cardio endurance into your exercise plan including: walking, stair climbing, swimming, hiking, cycling, rowing, tennis, golfing, gardening, and dancing. 

Strength Training

Strength training helps prevent bone loss, build muscles, and improve balance. All of which help you stay independent and make day-to-day activities easier such as lifting a grandchild, getting in and out of a car, and carrying groceries. Strength exercises usually require weights or resistance bands, but you can also use common household objects such as canned soups or water bottles, or strength training machines at a fitness center.

Flexibility Exercises

Incorporating flexibility exercises or stretching when working out helps you stay limber and increases the range of movement for ordinary physical activities such as getting dressed, reaching for objects on a shelf, shampooing your hair, and playing with grandchildren.

Balance Exercises

Concentrating on balance through exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi will improve your overall balance, posture, and quality of walking. Balance exercises can also reduce your risk of falling.

Regardless of your age or physical condition, everyone benefits from exercise. Effective exercise doesn’t require grueling workouts or gym memberships. It’s about moving more and incorporating activity into your life, even in small ways. Whether you are generally healthy or are managing an illness there are many easy ways to get your body moving and improve your health.

To read more tips about seniors and exercise, general health guidelines, and much more visit the Checklist section of the Maxim Healthcare Services website

This information is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice and consultation. When differences exist between the information here and information given to you by your healthcare provider(s), you should follow the advice of your healthcare provider(s). Any additional information or clarification needed should be sought from the Physician, Practitioner, Speech Pathologist, or Nutritionist who is familiar with the individual’s health and medical conditions.

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