Many seniors find once they reach retirement age that they finally have the time-and, if they planned well, the money-to do the things they’ve always wanted to do, whether that be travel around the world or take pottery classes at the local community college.
Unfortunately, while their minds may still be sharp as a tack, their bodies are just starting to let them down in a multitude of little ways; aches, pains, arthritis, etc. These physical limitations will only get worse with time. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, senior exercise can prevent many little health problems that would otherwise be an annoyance at best, and possibly even life-threatening at worst. From the time a person is over 50, exercise should play a guiding role in arranging their schedule. Fifty is no longer “old age;” why let your body think it is?
If you are looking towards retirement, or perhaps already retired, you should look into finding senior exercise programs that match your level of fitness and challenge you to do a little more than before. As with 20- and 30-year-olds, there’s a fine line to walk between challenging your body and damaging your body. This is where a senior exercise program or a personal trainer can come in handy. If you live in a large city, chances are good that your local community center will have.
But suppose it doesn’t? Alternately, suppose their “senior exercise” programs are geared towards people who are less physically fit than you are, or more fit? If you find yourself in a situation where the exercises are too challenging, you should explain the situation to the instructor and see if s/he offers gentle or “beginners” programs, or if s/he can recommend someone who does. Know your body’s limits. Exercise that’s a little more strenuous than you’re accustomed to prevents health problems; exercise that’s much more strenuous can cause them. You don’t want to damage your body trying to keep it healthy!
On the other hand, it may be that the exercise program isn’t strenuous enough. If that’s the case, you might consider quitting, unless you enjoy the chance to be around other seniors. There is something to be said for the health benefits of sharing activities with other people.
In either case, however, if you want to make the most out of senior exercise-or if your local community center doesn’t offer a senior exercise program-then you may find yourself on your own. If that’s the case, you may benefit from a senior exercise video. These videos range in difficulty from the very easiest exercises to some that are quite strenuous. You should have no problems finding one to suit your needs. There’s rarely any “one size fits all” solution for elderly exercise; seniors, like every other age group, have a wide range of physical ability.
Seniors should never overlook the most basic of activities; walking is a gentle, repetetive exercise that helps keep you fit and healthy. If you’re able, consider climbing stairs several times a day. The longer you climb stairs, the longer you’ll be able to climb stairs. Senior exercise equipment may also be a good choice for you. It’s typically more gentle on joints and bones than other forms of exercise equipment. Or, try a senior exercise chair, if other forms of senior exercise equipment seem too strenuous.
Exercise for women over 50 should take into account the softening of their bones. Even if you don’t suffer from osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, there’s still a good chance that your bones are losing density. Your exercise program must realize that, and make protecting your bones a primary focus.
Whether you’re just walking around the block or you’re actively engaged in an intense senior exercise program at your local community center, you cannot afford to overlook the importance of exercise. Studies have shown that elderly exercise can help prevent a multitude of health problems.
Half an hour to an hour of gentle senior exercise seven days a week, for example, may help prevent heart attacks and strokes. It can also help prevent or even cure depression, especially (but not only) if you can find a good senior fitness program to join. Exercise helps keep blood sugar stable, and can often help prevent diabetes, or keep your diabetes under control if you already have it. And these are only a small sampling of the health problems that senior exercise can help treat or prevent! The list could go on for several pages.
The simple fact of the matter is that for people over 50, exercise is even more important than for younger people. Using your joints and muscles is the best way to keep them useable. Just as an engine will “freeze up” when it isn’t used, your body needs regular exercise in order to be able to function properly. In short: keep moving if you want to be able to keep moving!
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