Aging is inevitable and influenced by many things. Keeping active can slow the aging process and increase life expectancy and quality of life. Your fitness level, including bone density, strength, power, and muscle mass, can be increased at any age!
Are you a lifetime fitness fanatic? Wonderful! You are optimizing your chances of living longer and aging more successfully. Are you averagely fit? Keep at it! Long-term consistency is the key for maximum benefit. You want to keep building meaningful activity into your day such as brisk walking, gardening, stair climbing etc. Are you unfit or unwell? It’s never too late to build more physical activity into your day! You may be managing one or more complex conditions that can make it more difficult to exercise or maybe you have never exercised before. Doing any kind of activity at all is better than none, whether it is chair exercises or even sitting down and standing back up. If you’ve had a setback-like illness, injury, or surgery, get back to moving as soon as you can! Moreover, if you know you are going into surgery, get as much activity in as possible beforehand and get moving as soon as you are cleared to afterwards.
If you aren’t already into fitness or maybe you want to change up what you currently do, how on earth do you do it? Choosing a well-rounded routine will be key.
- Cardiovascular Activity – at least 3x/week for at least 20 minutes
- Strength Training – at least 2x/week (whole body)
- Flexibility/Mobility – optimally every day
It’s not uncommon for people to think as we age we need to slow down to prevent injury and accidents. Nothing could be farther from the truth! You need to consistently challenge your body, so it will adapt to keep you strong and stable. Keeping fit comes down to a few things: safety, how comfortable you are, and enjoyment. In general you should do what you enjoy. The caveat: you may need to modify what you do. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Listen to your body – start slow and slowly build; exercise at a level that feels like you are working but not extremely hard.
- Stay focused – it’s easy to get distracted during physical activities, which can lead to unintentional injury.
- Drink plenty of fluids – even if you aren’t thirsty, hydration is key with any and all physical activity.
- Keep an eye on the weather – older adults can lose heat and overheat faster; if weather is inclement have a plan for an indoor activity.
- Use the proper equipment – this can help prevent injury.
- Be prepared to adapt – runners may have to walk or cycle; have a plan so you can keep moving.
Erin Dorn, Aquatic & Fitness Coordinator