No matter your age, exercise is imperative to maintaining good health.
That doesn’t mean you need to be 70-years-old and running marathons,
but participating in a moderate amount of physical activity each day is
key. If you consider yourself sedentary, start out by exercising for as
little as 5-10 minutes a day and gradually build up to a desired amount.
As we get older, there are normal physiological changes that occur in
our bodies. These include decreases in muscle mass and tissue elasticity,
decreases in reaction time and bone density and diminishing heart and
lung function. This is primarily what necessitates a change in exercise
regimens as we age. Additionally, as we age, joint stability and balance
training become increasingly important.
The primary goals of an exercise regimen should include three main components:
- Aerobic fitness strengthens your heart and lungs, helps lower cholesterol,
reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes, improves your immune system and
lowers your blood pressure. And those are just the physical benefits.
There are also mental benefits to aerobic fitness such as reducing anxiety,
depression and stress. Examples of aerobic fitness include walking, swimming,
dancing or kickboxing.
- This is one of the best ways to gain bone and muscle mass. Strength training
involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against
a resistance force. It will also elevate your level of endorphins and
aid in getting better sleep. If you don’t have access to lifting
weights, machines or a gym membership, doing simple exercises at home
like pushups, squats and lunges are excellent strength training techniques.
- Flexibility provides a number of health benefits. Stretching increases
your range of motion around your joints, helps prevent injury and even
increases your strength. Start your morning off by stretching, do it as
a way to relax before going to sleep at night, or as a cool-down after
your workout. If you’re not sure which stretches to do, find a yoga
class in your community or online to help increase your flexibility.