Mar 19, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Getting Back Into Physical Fitness in Your Senior Years
As intelligent adults, we know that exercise is important, that we need it to stay healthy, and that we are more likely to get sick or injured if we don't work out. Even so, over the course of adulthood, most of us stop exercising at some point.
We get busy with work, we lose that youthful vigor, and at some point you realize that it's been months, if not years, since you last went running or did a jumping-jack. By the time most people retire, they are already notably out of shape and muscle deterioration has begun to set in.
All that said, eventually your doctor will prescribe exercise as a way to stay healthy during your golden years and you know you'd best take the advice. But what do you do when you start to exercise and your body tuckers out before you've even worked up a sweat?
The first step is not to worry. This happens to a lot of people and even past the age of 65, you are more than capable of easing back into exercise and a healthy active lifestyle.
The most important thing to realize is that you're not 15 anymore, or even 40 for that matter. Your body isn't going to spring right back into fighting form, it'll need time to build up muscle and stamina so that you can actually achieve a full workout.
The key is to start slow. Don't overtax yourself or push too hard at first, just reintroduce your body to the idea of exercise. It'll get the hint after a week or two of slowly increasing light activity.
The best way to get started is to simply begin going for walks. You can do this with a pet, with a friend, interactive caregiver, or simply striking out on your own to see the neighborhood.
Start with short walks of no more than ten minutes at a time and slowly ramp up the length and speed of your walks over time. If you're unstable at first, take a cane and a caregiver with you for support.
Diversify Your Low-Impact Activities
Once your body begins to warm up to the idea of exercise, start looking for variety in your physical activities. The best way to build stamina, strength, and stability is to get yourself the equivalent of a whole-body workout, even if you do so over the course of a week. Don't just go walking, play a little frisbee golf with your friends.
Head over to the pool and swim around, you don't even have to start with laps. Even a rousing game of ping-pong at the senior center can get your blood pumping and work out muscles you've forgotten about. Find a selection of physical activities you like and do them regularly.
Spend More Time Outside
Most kids, even today in the world of cellphones, spend a lot of time hanging out outside. While you can sit and talk with your friends anywhere, walking and playing both happen much more naturally when you're outside.
You'll feel more inclined to walk in the sunshine and enjoy a local garden if you're already lounging in a sunbeam when it's time to move and you might even find yourself caught up in an outdoor game with other seniors. Simply spending time outdoors will increase your chances of physical activity, not to mention the fact that sunshine is good for you all on its own.
Join an Exercise Class
Finally, once your body can handle a half hour of light physical activity without feeling like you're going to collapse, you should consider joining a group exercise class. Spinning, yoga, or the always popular dance groups are a great way to kick up your heels, get your blood pumping, and enjoy time with other seniors while obeying the doctor's orders and getting back into shape.
Exercising after retiring is always an interesting challenge as you figure out the best ways to get the workout your body needs. Remember that the important part is to build up and maintain as many muscle groups as possible and you can use any assistance available to you to do so.
Whether you use your walker as a workout support or ask your in-home caregiver to spot you for safety, just make sure you get your body moving and have fun doing it. For more tips on how to stay healthy during retirement with the help of in-home care, contact us today at (732)-557-0010!