Happy New Year to all! It is that time of year again when we all make the customary New Year’s resolutions. An ever popular one is to exercise more. Chances are you will not find many elderly adults at the neighborhood gym working out with a personal trainer, but that does not mean that exercise is not important for seniors, too.
Regular exercise is an important component in staying healthy and being able to maintain independence. Many people know how important it is to prevent falls in the later years of life, which can lead to broken hips or worse. Exercise can help to improve balance so you can avoid falls and the resulting disabilities that may follow. Other benefits of exercise include a better metabolism, improved mobility, and greater endurance during physical activity. Believe it or not, it can also help immune function and lower the risk of several chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer.
Not only does exercise promote physical health, but it also profits mental health. People experience more restful sleep, elevated mood, and self-confidence. Brain function is improved which prevents memory loss and may even be a factor in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The first step in achieving your New Year’s resolution is knowing how to get started without overdoing it. Before you break out the treadmill, talk to your doctor about any exercise regimens you are thinking about doing and ask if there are any activities you should avoid due to preexisting conditions. Once you are clear to go, start slow and try to stick to a schedule that you know you can keep. Seven days a week is probably unrealistic as well as too much. Three times a week is much more attainable.
To achieve these benefits, individuals should practice strength, balance, stretching, and endurance exercises. Walking, senior fitness classes, water sports, Tai Chi and yoga are good ways to meet these areas.
One reason for looking into home care for Maine residents may be for someone to aide in their physical fitness. Many of our home care clients are bound to their homes, beds, or a wheel-chair. This should not prevent you from a goal of a healthier 2013. The exercises may take a little more personalization, but they can be done. For strength, individuals can use hand weights or any other weighted objects to do sets of lifting. Stretches can be done with resistance bands to work on those muscles. Bending, twisting, and even “chair-yoga” options are available to improve flexibility.
Dedicate this year to a healthier you. It is never too late in life to start. You might be surprised how much better you feel, and even wish you had started your exercise regime sooner!