Finding ways to get exercise as you get older is a smart and easy way to stay fit and improve your health. Research shows that an exercise regimen offers a wealth of health benefits. In fact, one study found that adults ages 75 and older who exercised lived longer than older adults who didn't exercise. And, it is well known that regular exercise can help to boost heart health, maintain a healthy body weight, keep joints flexible and healthy, and improve balance to minimize falls.
For general health benefits, older adults should get approximately 2½ hours of aerobic activity (walking, running, and other activities that get the heart pumping faster) per week, combined with muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week. But you don't necessarily have to join a gym to reap the rewards. Barnabas Health Home Care also suggests the following activities that often feel more like fun than hard work. Remember to consult with your physician before starting any new exercise regimen.
- Dance. Sign up for a dance class with your spouse or a friend, or carve out some dance time at home.
- Go bowling. Join a bowling league or make a weekly date with some of your friends. If you have grandchildren, bring them along.
- Rediscover a favorite sport. Whether you love the elegance of golf or the challenge of tennis, make time for these leisure activities. If possible, vary your activities over the course of each week to work different muscle groups.
- Enjoy the great outdoors. When the weather cooperates, ride your bike, visit a local park for a hike, or simply go for a walk. These are all great exercises that get you outside and into the fresh air.
- Get in the swim. Swimming is an excellent exercise choice, particularly if you have arthritis and/or joint pain. Join a local fitness center with a pool and work in regular swims to meet your cardiovascular needs without straining your joints.
Balance and stretching count, too!
According to Barnabas Health Home Care, to help prevent falls, you also want to practice exercises that improve your balance. Yoga and tai chi fit the bill — and they will also help you manage stress, feel more relaxed, and improve muscle tone. Yoga or tai chi classes are widely available in many areas, from senior centers to the YMCA.
Taking some time to stretch every day can also help keep your joints flexible and keep you moving well. It's also important to lift some light weights — canned goods from your cupboard are a fine substitute — or use a resistance band to tone your muscles.
For more information about staying healthy as you age, visit the Barnabas Health Health Library at healthlibrary.barnabashealth.org.
About Barnabas Health Home Care – Care, support and compassion when you need them most. Barnabas Health Home Care offers patients the ability to recover from a serious illness or manage continued health needs in the place where they are most comfortable – their home. Our professionals work closely with each individual's health care team to ensure recovery and/or wellness goals are being met. Through patient and family education and communication, Home Care staff members become partners in each patient's health care plan to ensure the illness and treatment plan are fully understood and to encourage and coach compliance. Our programs, which serve patients of all ages, focus on assisting the individual in achieving and maintaining the highest level of wellness and independence. For more information, please visit www.homehealthnj.com.