Research indicates that exercise improves memory and cognitive health as well as physical health, making activity a worthy effort for all ages.
Many of us remember our parents telling us to go outside and play when we were younger. That’s because physical activity is good for us—no matter what our ages or abilities may be. Exercise can also improve balance for older adults, which is a crucial factor in helping to prevent falls. Other benefits of physical activity include lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Looking for a mood booster? Studies also highlight an increase in self-esteem and improved mood to the list of what physical activity can do for you.
Before you begin any physical activity, of course, ask your doctor or health care provider about the kinds of physical activities that are right for you. Talking with a doctor is particularly important if you have any kind of health issue such as heart disease or diabetes.
We’ve compiled the following tips around getting (and staying!) fit:
- Choose a goal, such as aiming for two and a half hours of total activity weekly, and include some aerobic activities if possible
- Start slowly, if you haven’t been physically active. Five to fifteen minutes at a time can be fine at first! Build up your activity levels over time
- Stick together, find a friend or group to share an activity with. Joining others can often help to keep us engaged, since we’re sharing our progress and enjoying companionship
- Be alert, should you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or unplanned weight loss, notify your caregiver and doctor right away!
- Include strength, add activities that strengthen your muscles
- Invest time, not expense, exercise bands or hand weights such as water bottles make great alternatives to equipment
- Be breath aware, as you lift a weight, you’ll want to exhale. Then breathe in as you lower it. Be sure not to hold your breath, as that can cause problems with blood pressure
- Stay balanced, add balance activities to your workout. Practice standing on one foot, holding onto a chair if you need to do so at first
- Keep it lively, stand up from a frequent sitting position, or the reverse if you are often standing, try alternatives such as seated stretches
- Explore options, use a tai-chi video to improve balance while you’re in the comfort of your room apartment, or try a yoga video or class
Finally, don’t feel you have to be particularly athletic in order to improve your health through physical activity. It’s important to find an activity you enjoy. The more you enjoy an activity, the more you’ll do it—and that can make all the difference in both your physical wellbeing and how you feel about maintaining your efforts!