There are all sorts of things you can do to maintain your health, strength, mental and physical well being as you grow older. It is never too late to start, but you must check with your GP or practice nurse to ensure you do not embark on a programme that is too robust for you, thus doing you more harm than good.
You must always warm up your muscles before you start any form of exercise, to stop muscles from straining or being pulled, again you must cool down before finishing exercising and leave yourself in a calm frame of mind.
Pilates, Yoga & Tai Chi
Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi are all beneficial and use slow, steady movements which will improve your stamina, strength, flexibility, suppleness, balance and co-ordination. Swimming uses every muscle in your body and is one of the best forms of exercise for any age. Aqua aerobics classes held at many municipal swimming pools and leisure centres are a fun way of keeping agile, and are performed to music, which again is good for your mental state. You will make friends also through exercise, which again is good.
Walking is an excellent form of exercise and can be done anywhere, anytime. Brisk walking or power walking is better for the cardiovascular system, but perhaps not as pleasurable. Leave the car at home and walk to as many places as you can. Get off the bus a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way. Country or coastal walking are the best as you get to take in lovely scenery which is a stress buster in itself, will lift your mood and the fresh air is just what the doctor ordered. You can join walking clubs which usually meet once a month, they also have a social side i.e. a lot of walks end at a country pub, again socialising is good for keeping your brain active too.
Pole walking exercises both the arms and legs, the poles are like ski’s. They are quite expensive to buy and to get any benefit you must pole walk on a regular basis.
Weight Bearing Exercise
Weight bearing exercise such as walking, aerobics, playing tennis/badminton/squash help strengthen bones which is important in the prevention of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become fragile and are more susceptible to breaking. It tends to be a genetic disorder and you can pay to have a bone scan to find out if you are at risk, if you have any symptoms, the scan will be done free.
Bowls or Golf
Playing bowls or golf, is again an active interest whilst keeping yourself fit. There are many indoor and outdoor bowling clubs for senior citizens, or you can play on municipal greens with a partner or friends, if joining a club is not for you.
Gardening & Cycling
Gardening, cycling, exercise equipment, dancing are all good forms of maintaining a healthy body. Zumba classes are a new form of dance, good fun and there are two standards, the gold being preferable for an older person. In fact they are starting Zumba classes next month at the leisure club I attend and am quite excited about it, as have heard such good reports about it.
Muscle Strengthening Exercises
Many old people find it difficult getting in and out of chairs, cars and baths, carrying bags of shopping, holding articles without dropping them or even picking up young grandchildren. The only way to slow down or reverse the loss of muscle and bone strength that occurs as a normal part of ageing is to take part in muscle strengthening exercises particularly in the hands, arms, legs and back. Instead of using the remote control make a point of getting out of the chair and changing channels manually. Pick up and put down relatively light weights and build up to heavier objects, always bending the knees so as not to strain your back, will also strengthen the body.
If you can build say 30 minutes of exercise on five or more days of the week, into your life, you will feel so much better and happier, it will also become a good habit. Only do exercise that you enjoy or like, otherwise it become a chore and a bore and you will soon tire of doing it.
Lack of motivation is often the biggest barrier to becoming more active, engage the help of a friend and do it together. However, once you start you’ll wish you had started years ago.
Listen to Your Body
Listen to your body and if you feel unwell, feel pain, dizzy or tired at any time, stop. Wear loose clothing and appropriate footwear and start slowly so your body can gradually get used to being more active.
Stay Physically Active
Keeping physically active in later life can help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and strokes. It will help to stop old people falling, often resulting in broken bones, especially hips. Exercise will also help maintain a good appetite and keep weight stable. It can often make you sleep better too and cope with depression, anxiety and stress as well as keeping you mobile. Regular exercise keeps the bowels healthy too, and will minimise discomfort if you have arthritis, Parkinsons, sciatica or stiff joints.
Look around you and I am sure you will find many other enjoyable pursuits to follow to help maintain a sense of healthy wellbeing as you age.