What if we could give you a pill that would prevent or delay heart disease/stroke, some cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, low back pain, high blood pressure, and balance problems/falls? This pill could also manage stress, improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, improve your ability to think more clearly, and improve your energy level. Most would agree that this is quite the little “wonder pill”. But guess what, you can have all those benefits and more and the answer is right at your fingertips.
Physical activity, friends. That’s all it takes and it will make a world of difference. These tips are universal in encouraging everyone to do some additional fitness practices at home; simply modify the intensity based on your physical level. These practices are ideal for older adults as well because the physical and mental decline that we may associate with advancing age, may actually be a direct result of decreasing physical activity level. When older people lose their ability to do things, it’s usually because they’re not physically active.
How much exercise is needed for health benefits?
Ideally, you want to section your activity into 4 different types to get all the benefits.
Aim for 30 minutes of continuous activity, or 10 minutes 3x daily. Try walking, swimming, biking, or even dancing. If you can talk without any trouble as you walk you aren’t working hard enough, and if you can’t talk at all, you’re exercising too hard. But always remember that some activity is better than none.
We’re not talking about weightlifting here. But, when you have an adequate amount of strength you can do so many daily activities without stress. You can get up from a chair more easily, lift grandchildren or groceries, takes walks and wake up in the morning without those nagging aches and pains. Strength helps prevent falls in older adults too, which can cause problems like broken hips.
Some simple strength exercises include:
– Bicep curls with a canned good or light hand weight
– Squats at the kitchen counter, hold on for added stability
There are a few simple things you can do to strengthen your balance skills. Try standing on one foot, then the other at the kitchen counter. Practice getting up from a chair without using your hands or arms. Try walking heel to toe, or sideways.
Moving more freely is beneficial for everyone. Who wouldn’t like to bend over without those minor (or major) aches and pains? The most obvious benefit of stretching is the ability to improve flexibility and range of motion. As we age our muscles can become tighter and the range of motion in our joints can be minimized. When you lack flexibility your body becomes slower and moving is more difficult (and uncomfortable). This can lead to muscle strains or injury, but it also limits what you can do on a daily basis.
Start with light stretches and remember to always stretch after you’ve warmed your muscles up, and don’t stretch to the point that it hurts.
– Practice touching your toes
– Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together
– Stand tall with your arms up in the air and slowly bend from side to side
Always remember, with any exercise program you want to start out at a low level of effort and work up slowly. “Low and slow” is the way to go. Exercise should never cause pain so if you do feel any intense discomfort, you need to slow down, stop, or consult a professional. We offer exercise programs designed to help people at any and all fitness levels. If you’d like to get started, give us a call today.