One inarguable fact is that we are all aging, and the older we get, the more essential physical fitness is for our health and well-being. You are never too young to begin being physically active, and adding exercises to your daily routines is surprisingly simple. Just be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, before you begin.
The key to any successful program is to do activities you enjoy so it feels like something other than work. Since group activities increase motivation and encourage socialization simultaneously, one way to motivate yourself is to join a group activity.
Otherwise, adding a daily walk into your schedule is a great way to begin exercising. Be sure to start yourself at a leisurely pace, and don’t overexert yourself. Set a reasonable time for a walk, like 20 minutes, and keep that goal for the first week or two. Then, either increase your time by 10 minutes every other week until you have a 45-minute regime or maintain the same time but increase your walking speed. Both options will give you increased cardiovascular benefits.
Other endurance activities that can be done alone or in a group include dancing, swimming and cycling. Again, start with a reasonable time, such as 10 minutes, and slowly increase your time to 30 minutes. At home, gardening, raking or mowing the yard are also physical exercises for elders that still offer health benefits. You can consider any activity you enjoy exercise as long as you do it consistently and work up to at least 30 minutes at a moderate to brisk pace for your heart.
Qigong (pronounced chee gong) is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that coordinates body posture, movement, breathing, and meditation that is excellent for seniors. Like yoga or tai chi, qigong involves slower, careful activities linked with deliberate breathing techniques. Combining breathing and movement aids physical and energetic balance, improving vitality and function. However, qigong tends to be gentler than yoga or tai chi and involves fewer complex full-body movements. Seniors can also practice qigong seated or standing – a key benefit for many balance-challenged seniors.
Finally, many seniors opt for Thai massage treatments instead of or in addition to medications. The benefits of Thai massage include increased range of motion, reduced back pain and headaches, and stress alleviation. Thai massage is beneficial at the beginning of your increased activity as the practitioner can help restore your muscles and joints to a state where you can do activities more efficiently.
Whichever activity you choose, remember to dress according to the weather conditions before beginning any exercise routine. In summer, keep your skin covered to protect it from the sun, and in cooler weather, wear layers like sweaters and jackets that you can adjust as your body heats up or cools down. And if you notice any change in your health or well-being, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor.