Your overall health and level of independence as you enter your golden years are largely dependent upon how physically active you are throughout the aging process. Many older adults don’t get enough exercise to maintain good health. This presents a problem as the normal aging process slowly takes its toll.
Regular physical activity improves almost any chronic illness, boosts endorphin levels (the feel good hormones) and wards off disease. The ultimate goal is to live optimally, and exercise is one tool that gives you a better quality of life.
Exercise has many benefits, including:
- Increased muscle mass, strength and flexibility
- Higher metabolic rate and less tendency to gain weight
- Improved ability to do everyday tasks
- Better balance and reduced risk of falls or fractures
- Increased joint mobility and less arthritic pain
- Decreased risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes
Just 30 minutes of dedicated walking a day will give you the level of physical activity you need and have a positive impact on your overall health and wellness. Even with arthritis, walking can improve symptoms and stave off medicines and procedures. Swimming is also great for those looking for low-impact activities. The most important thing to do is to find an activity you enjoy doing.
Since physical activity can stress your body and heart, you should speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Talk about how you can safely incorporate physical activity into your life – especially if you have a chronic condition like hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes.
It’s important to start slowly and build up your level of activity gradually so you do not overexert yourself or cause any injuries. Here are some additional recommendations for kicking off an exercise routine:
- Do low-intensity warm-up and cool-down activities. This allows time for your body to adjust. It also helps prevent your blood pressure from dropping, which can happen if you suddenly stop exercising.
- Pace yourself so you can still talk comfortably during exercise. Or learn to check your pulse rate.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercising.
Stop your activity and consult a doctor right away if you have chest pain or pressure, lightheadedness, nausea, abnormal heartbeats, trouble with breathing or balance, or other unusual symptoms.
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.