SENIOR EXERCISE

It’s never too late to get started

by Tiffanie Grady-Gillespie, CPT/Certified Wellness Coach & Owner WickedFiTT

There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary with age. It may be due to health problems, weight or pain issues or worries about falling. Or, maybe you think that exercising simply isn’t for you. But as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever. Moving can help boost your energy, manage symptoms of illness and keep your weight healthy. A wonderful side effect is how good it is for your mind, mood and memory.

In addition, regular exercise reduces your risk of hardened arteries, heart attack and stroke. It also strengthens your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones to help fight osteoporosis. Keeping your body strong and limber can help you maintain your independence as you age. It allows you to continue the kinds of activities you’ve enjoyed your entire life. No matter your age or your current physical condition, there are some simple, enjoyable ways to become more active and improve your health and outlook.

A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the No. 1 contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life — even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years. You’ll not only look better when you exercise; you’ll feel sharper, more energetic and experience a greater sense of well-being.

Remember to always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. They can help you create a workout plan that suits your specific needs and goals.

Let’s start with a couple of myths surrounding exercising as we age:

Myth: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.

Fact: Regular physical activity helps you look and feel younger and stay independent longer. It also lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and obesity. And the mood benefits of exercise can be just as great at 70 or 80 as they were at 20 or 30.

Myth: I’m too weak or have too many aches and pains.

Fact: Getting moving can help you manage pain and improve your strength and self-confidence. Many older people find that regular activity not only helps stem the decline in strength and vitality that comes with age, but actually improves it. The key is to start off gently.