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How to Get Started in a Senior Fitness Program

As we age, the importance of staying physically active grows even more in order to accomplish the goal of maintaining a good quality of life. Conditions like arthritis, illness or chronic aches and pains can decrease your desire to exercise on a regular basis. Or you may want to exercise but feel you simply don’t have time. But it doesn’t have to be that way – staying active and working your muscles regularly helps you enjoy your senior years and participating in the things you’ve long enjoyed. 

If you’ve been in a rut with your physical activity, here is a healthy dose of knowledge and motivation you just may need to get started with your very own fitness regimen!

The Benefits of Staying Active 

Regular exercise improves the ability to function at almost any age or level of fitness. It’s proven to reduce some of the frequent aches and pains seniors experience and can boost your mood, help you sleep, and improve your memory. 

You may think that if you are ill or suffer from chronic health problems you shouldn’t push yourself, but keeping a regular exercise routine has many health benefits, like improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar management, a boosted immune system, stronger bones, and better respiratory and cardiovascular function. A regular exercise routine also builds strength and flexibility and gives you the energy, strength, and mobility you need to be independent and do everything you want to do.

How to Get Started

First, it is very important to check with your physical therapist to design an exercise plan that is right for you. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week. You should also consider performing a cardio exercise for at least ten minutes to get the best pulmonary benefits from it.

The key is finding exercises you enjoy and focusing on those designed to help you build strength, stay mobile, and improve balance. Some tried-and-true fitness regimens that seniors can do include:

  • Swimming – increases cardiovascular fitness and strengthens muscles
  • Walking – improves cardiovascular health, reduces arthritis pain
  • Riding a bike – increases leg strength, improves cardiovascular health and cognitive performance 
  • Low impact aerobics – gets you heart rate up and pumps much-needed oxygen to your muscles and body
  • Flexibility (stretching) – improves mobility and balance
  • Weightlifting – keeps muscles healthy and prevents fat gain
  • Yoga – builds muscle strength, core stability, and total-body mobility
  • Dancing – increases your breathing and heart rate and is fun!

If you have not been active lately, start slowly and listen closely to how your body responds. If you feel pain, stop immediately. Then, make a call to your trusted physical therapist, who can diagnose the source of the pain and help you design a fitness program to remedy it. If you typically don’t enjoy exercising, try adding the following mood boosters to your workout routine to stay motivated:

  • Playing music
  • Listening to an audiobook
  • Doing it with a friend (the buddy system works!)
  • Watching a favorite TV show while on the treadmill
  • Going window-shopping while walking laps at the mall
  • Taking your dog for a walk (or borrow one!)
  • Walking instead of using a golf cart on the course

Getting moving can boost your energy, help you maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. We’re all about doing what is good for the mind, body, mood, and memory. 

Ready to get back in the game? Get started today!

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