Just because we are aging, it’s not time to sit down! In fact, it’s just the opposite. Now more than ever, it’s important for seniors to maintain an active lifestyle in order to reap maximum health benefits.
There are many reasons that people become more sedentary as they age. It could be due to health problems, weight or pain issues or worries about falling. A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life—even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life—it’s about adding life to your years.
Not only does moving help boost your energy levels, it will also help protect your independence, your heart health and manage symptoms of illness or pain, as well as your weight. Regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood and memory.
Although it can now challenging to start a regular exercise routine at any age, it can be even harder to commit to a program as you get older. Health problems, aches and pains or concerns about injuries or falls may discourage you. Maybe you’ve never exercised before and have no clue where to begin, think you’re too old or frail or can’t live up to the standards you set when you were younger. Maybe you just think exercise is boring and have never enjoyed it.
The truth is you can gain benefits from adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways. It’s never too late to get your body moving to boost your health, outlook and improve how you age.
Here are six myth-busters about activity and aging:
Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.
Fact: Regular physical activity helps you look and feel younger and stay independent longer. It also lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and obesity. And the mood benefits of exercise can be just as great at 70 or 80 as they were at 20 or 30.
Myth 2: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.
Fact: Regular exercise builds strength and stamina, preventing loss of bone mass, improving balance and reducing the risk of falling.
Myth 3: It’s too frustrating. I’ll never be the athlete I once was.
Fact: Changes in hormones, metabolism, bone density and muscle mass mean that strength and performance levels inevitably decline with age, but that doesn’t mean you can no longer derive a sense of achievement from physical activity or improvise your health. Set goals appropriate for your age. Remember, a sedentary lifestyle takes a much great toll on athletic ability than biological aging.
Myth 4: I’m too old to start exercising.
Fact: You’re never too old to get moving and improve your health! Actually, adults who become active later in life often show greater physical and mental improvements than their younger counterparts. If you’ve never exercised before or it’s been a while, you won’t be encumbered by the same sports injuries that many regular exercisers experience in later life. Just begin with gentle activities and build up from there.
Myth 5: I can’t exercise because I’m disabled.
Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenge, but can lift light weights, stretch and do chair aerobics, chair yoga, and chair Tai Chi to increase their range of motion, improve muscle tone and flexibility and promote cardiovascular health. Many swimming pools offer access to wheelchair users.
Myth 6: I’m too weak or have too many aches and pains.
Fact: Getting moving can help you manage pain and improve your strength and self-confidence. Many older people find that regular activity not only helps stem the decline in strength and vitality that comes with agree but actually improves it.
Now that there are no more excuses, grab a friend and go for a walk! Join in an exercise class for seniors, try a yoga or barre class or go for a swim. Most importantly, always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, especially if you have a predicting condition. More than likely, your doctor will be thrilled to help you find just the program for you.