Getting older can be a challenge, or it can be demoralizing, and it all comes down to how healthy you are. The most important thing you can do for your health no matter how old you are is to be active—to engage in regular, physical exercise several times a week, or even better, every day.
Some illnesses are beyond our control, but most illness and age-related injury can be prevented by getting enough exercise. Like a machine that breaks down when it isn’t used and maintained, the human body tends to fall apart faster if it isn’t out running around. Read on for ten tips on maximizing your health regardless of your age.
- Know where your health and fitness stands today. If you have an idea of where you’re at physically, you can set goals for improving your health. Get a physical to determine your heart and lung health, your weight, blood pressure and body fat levels. Find out if there’s anything you shouldn’t do, and then plan to do everything else!
- Don’t let your internal voices make you feel old. Forget the number of years in your age and think about how young you want to feel. Don’t give up on dancing, hiking, biking or any other activity because you think “old people don’t ___”.
- Focus on your elderly independence. Being physically fit enables people to live in their homes when many others the same age wind up in managed care homes or hospitals. Walking, bending, lifting, climbing stairs and keeping your balance are all things to work at so you don’t lose the capacity to take care of yourself and live the way you want.
- Do low impact cardio regularly. You may not be in shape for a vigorous aerobics class, but if you can go walking three times a week, you can stay in good cardiovascular condition. Heart and lungs will appreciate your taking care in exercising them. You’ll get more oxygen, which will leave you feeling energized and give your skin a nice glow.
- Do light weights weekly. You don’t have to life weights, although you may find you enjoy that, too! Other types of weight training can be done by using exercise bands for resistance training, or weight training in water. Weight or resistance training builds muscle, increases strength, burns fat and improves balance.
- Work on flexibility. Once we get into our forties, the floor seems to get further away! But if you target your flexibility and work on it by stretching, balance exercises and programs of Yoga or Tai Chi, you’ll be able to do a lot more, whether it’s getting out of a chair or getting your cat off the roof.
- Ditch the smokes. Smoking is the worst thing you can do to your body, bar none. Give it up.
- Don’t settle into a sedentary routine. Some people get old because they sit down in a chair and stay there. Get out of the chair. Move around, visit people, take walks. Clean something. Find a dance. If you rest, you rust. Don’t rust.
- Find partners and friends to join your workouts. Sometimes people don’t like to exercise because it’s boring and they get lonesome. Find someone else who wants or needs to exercise and work out together. A partner can encourage, commiserate and motivate.
- Try everything once. You may find unexpected fitness fun. If you haven’t tried swing dancing or weight lifting or trout fishing, even if you aren’t sure you’ll like it, try it anyway. Anything that gets you moving can’t be all bad right?