As the ineffable Bette Davis said, “Old age is no place for sissies”. Sure, there are challenges as we age but staying active will only make us more equipped to meet them. And it’s never too late to start.
As we get older there are many physiological changes that occur in our bodies. Muscle mass slowly decreases as does coordination and reaction time. But you can combat the decline of all these things with consistent and appropriate exercise. For instance, regular strength training can slow the loss of muscle mass. Muscle strengthening should be done at least twice a week starting with light weights, and should involve all major muscle groups. And it’s never too late to start to get active; you can maintain or even increase what you have. Better yet, it can actually SLOW those physical digressions…what more motivation do you need?
There are plenty of scientific studies proving that exercise can lower risk of chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. Being active doesn’t just help prevent chronic conditions, and strengthen your physical body, it also boosts your serotonin levels making you feel better and giving you more energy to do all the things you want to do in a day.
Recommendations for aerobic exercise are 3-5 times a week of moderate (brisk walking or biking) to vigorous (swimming or cross country skiing) intensity in bouts of at least 10 mins totalling 150-300mins/week. So go outside to get your exercise and then it has dual purpose. Being outside in nature helps your mind reset as well as your body. Consult with a health care professional before beginning an exercise program, and remember to start slow.
Doing this with friends at a local gym can make it fun and engaging, and a good excuse to go out for lunch!
Stretching is important. We’ve been hearing it all our lives and guess what? It’s still true, maybe now more than ever. As we get older our flexibility and the range of motion of our joints can become limited so stretching is an important part of any exercise program. All major areas of the body should be stretched regularly and held for 30-60 seconds. It’s important to stretch properly so having an instructor help you is a good idea.
You might not be headed for the circus, but even so, balance training can be very helpful as you enter those wiser years – and it is often overlooked. You may prevent a fall, or at least have a more graceful landing! Balance work should be done in a safe, monitored environment. You can gradually progress balancing postures and increase difficulty by reducing the base of support. You can add dynamic movement and challenge your centre of gravity by reducing sensory input, but go easy on yourself (spring chickens and all that).
This is also an area where guidance from a professional is extremely beneficial.
If you’re interested in starting a workout program and want to be guided by a professional, contact Victoria Galletta, Registered Kinesologist at Maximum Physiotherapy 705-444-3600.