Special to the Recorder
Your golden years are certainly a time to slow down and enjoy life, but that doesn’t mean you have to decrease your activity level. According to AARP, 60 percent of people ages 64 and older are considered sedentary, yet this age group can gain major health benefits from exercise. All you need is a simple fitness program to increase the quality and longevity of your life.
Benefits of exercise for older adults
Nearly all seniors can benefit from regular physical activity, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The CDC has found regular exercise improves bone strength, heart health, mood and stamina while also preventing chronic disease and lowering the chance of injury. Perhaps one of the most important benefits is that it helps seniors maintain their independence by reducing the risk of falling and fracturing bones.
Many older adults avoid exercise because they are worried it will cause further injury. While the body does take longer to repair itself when older, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks.
Best practices for exercising
If you’re an older adult ready to exercise more, here are some tips to help:
Modify exercises. Plan to alter exercises to put less strain on your body and meet your unique needs. Many exercises can be modified so you can do them from a chair. If getting down on the floor is difficult for you, keep in mind that any floor exercise can also be done against a wall, like pushups.
Focus on low impact. Your regular physical exercise should emphasize low-impact exercises with a higher amount of reps, usually around 15 to 30. The maximum time you should exert yourself is three minutes followed by two minutes of rest.
Use full extensions. Concentrate on exercises in which you fully extend your joints, like curls. By extending, you can elongate muscles and build stronger muscle contraction.
Stay hydrated. As we head into summer, it’s important for everyone to stay cool and drink plenty of water. Try to do most of your exercising inside and exercise in the early morning if you do go outside. Wherever you work out, make sure your body is getting enough water. Exercise is more beneficial and less risky when your body is well hydrated.
Buddy up. Exercising with friends or in groups is a great way to make fitness fun and keep you motivated. If you are concerned about injury, it’s an especially good idea to try activities in a class setting with supervision from a trained professional.
The most important rule when exercising is to listen to your body. Once you find the regular fitness activities that best meet your needs, you are on your way to enhanced wellness and a healthier retirement.
Nemiah Rutledge is the founder and owner of Body Paradox, a Jacksonville-based fitness company that provides corporate and personal fitness training. For more information on his exercise programs and philosophy, visit BodyParadox.com.