One of the things people fear most about getting older is losing their independence, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 70% of all adults over the age of 65 will eventually require some form of long-term care, either in the form of assisted living or memory care services. As we age, we tend to lose strength and muscle tone, our vision becomes less sharp and our hearing less focused, and we can even suffer from losses of balance and mental acuity, all of which can make us more reliant on the assistance of others to complete normal daily activities. However, even though there is no “magic potion” that can completely reverse the effects of aging, there is something that will keep those effects to a minimum: EXERCISE! You may think that retirement means sitting around and taking it easy, but keeping up with a basic, common-sense fitness routine is a great way to stay healthy, active, and independent well into your golden years.
There are many potential health benefits to regular exercise. On the most basic level, staying active helps seniors to maintain flexibility and muscle mass, which can in turn reduce the likelihood of falls and accidental injury. Regular exercise, especially early in the day, can even help improve your sleep cycle. Along with releasing important endorphins, exercise helps build energy and strength for daily activities. Even more importantly, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who were more physically fit in midlife were less likely to develop chronic health conditions in old age, such as Alzheimer’s or congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, there is a tendency among many seniors to avoid exercise, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that approximately 32% of older adults have engaged in no physical activity time in the last month. Some fear that exercise might exacerbate their existing health conditions and that just sitting quietly is perhaps safer. However, this is not true. In fact, extended sitting has been linked to increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels, as well as to an increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Taking even a few minutes every day to maintain physical fitness can significantly increase your overall quality of life.
Starting a fitness routine may seem overwhelming, but it can be easy if you just follow a few simple guidelines. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind:
- First and foremost, always seek the advice of a doctor or qualified physical therapist before beginning any exercise regimen.
- Keep things simple in the beginning. It is better to start small and build up gradually as you become more comfortable.
- Look for exercises that emphasize balance, core strength, endurance, and multi-joint flexibility, as these will help you perform everyday activities.
- Try taking walks and getting a simple pedometer that allows you to track how many steps you take each day. This will give you a goal and a way to measure your progress.
- Try walking up and down the stairs instead of riding the elevator.
At Village Park Senior Living, we provide a variety of amenities to promote health and wellness, including walking paths, health spas, fitness centers, and fitness classes for residents of all levels. Eventually you will find that it can be mentally empowering to be able to do some of the physical activities you could do when they were younger. In fact, some seniors even discover that they are able to get more physically fit as older adults than they ever were in their busy youth.
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