Did you know that if you’re 50 years or older, you can feel better and live longer by staying fit? May 30 is National Senior Health and Fitness Day. This day promotes the benefits of older Americans staying healthy and fit.
Regular exercise can provide seniors with many health benefits. It can reduce or prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and osteoporosis. It reduces anxiety and depression, and may help improve or maintain cognitive function. Exercise helps you to stay strong, so you can continue to perform your daily activities – which ultimately means, you’ll be able to maintain your independence longer.
The four main types of exercise that seniors need include:
Endurance – As you get older, you may not have the energy to do things like you used to. You may get tired or winded easier. However, by adding endurance, or aerobic, exercises to your routine, you can increase your heart and breathing rates, while improving your circulation. Endurance exercises include walking, jogging, dancing, bicycling, playing tennis, and swimming.
Strength – When you turn 50, you start to lose 1%-2% of muscle mass each year. Muscle mass loss contributes to the loss of bone strength, increased balance problems, and reduced mobility. But strength exercises, like lifting weights or working with resistance bands, can help you increase your muscle mass, so you can gain strength. Also, lower body exercises, like walking, can increase leg strength while improving balance issues.
Balance – Each year, one in every three Americans over the age of 65 falls. Falls can cause hip and other fractures as well as traumatic head injuries. But you can reduce your risk of falls by improving your balance. Balance retraining exercises, like standing on one foot or walking heel to toe, can improve your balance. Also, studies have shown tai chi can reduce the risk of falls.
Flexibility – You may notice as you get older that it’s harder to reach up into the cabinets to get dishes. Or, you may have trouble looking over your shoulder as you back the car out of the driveway. That’s because your muscles aren’t as flexible as they used to be. However, you can stay limber and increase your range of motion by doing stretching exercises or yoga. Increased flexibility will enable you to continue doing your day-to-day activities.
Anyone – at any age – can benefit from exercise – even if you have problems with standing or walking. However, you should talk with your doctor before you start an exercise program to ensure you don’t have any physical conditions that may limit the types of exercise you can do.
Once you get the “okay” from your doctor, the most important thing you can do is to “get moving … start improving” – the theme for this year’s National Senior Health and Fitness Day. By becoming more active on a regular basis, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy, and you’ll be able to do them easier and faster. Plus, you’ll be able to improve your quality of life and maintain an independent lifestyle longer.
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Remember… when your feet feel good, you feel good.