Our Change Your Life this Summer series continues this week with a look at exercise and physical activity programs for older adults.
Why Get Physical?
Older adults sometimes think by reducing their activity level and “taking it easy,” they can decrease their risk for experiencing a fall or other injury. But science proves just the opposite is true. Weight training combined with regular exercise can help with core strength, balance and flexibility. That is the best way to reduce your risk for taking a tumble.
Physical activity can also reduce your risk for developing chronic diseases that develop as people age. In some instances, exercise is also an effective treatment for conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
Five Fitness Tips for Seniors in Central Ohio
The goal for you as a caregiver and for the senior you care for should be to engage in physical activities that help with endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The experts from the National Institute on Aging recommend the following:
1. Try to build up to 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard. It is best to exercise every day, but even four days a week will help. Keep in mind that you don’t have to complete all 30 minutes of exercise in one session. You can reap the same rewards from fifteen minutes of exercise twice a day.
2. Incorporate activities that work your muscles. Strength training with resistance bands or light weights is best. Strong muscles help you to get up from the chair without help, carry groceries, and maintain your independence at home. They also help to prevent falls.
3. Balance training is also important. It is one of the best things you can do to prevent falls. Tai Chi is a great form of exercise to help improve balance, as is working out with a fitness ball.
4. Stretching exercises that improve flexibility are key part of staying fit. It can help with everything from driver safety to decreasing the pain of arthritis. Chair yoga and swimming are both good activities for increasing flexibility.
5. A final tip is to be sure to check with your primary care physician and your senior loved one’s before you begin exercising together.
If you would like to exercise at home and need help getting started, The National Institute on Aging is offering a free DVD workout Go4Life for seniors. The multi-part series is good for older adults of all fitness levels.
Be sure to stop back next week for the third article in our series. We’ll share the experts’ recommendations for preventative screenings.