Four Exercises to Stay Fit at Any Age

Staying healthy and living an active lifestyle is important at any age; however, as we begin to enter our “golden years”, the importance of maintaining our bodies and minds is exponentially increased. Not only does physical activity help your body stay in the best shape possible but it also helpsyour overall mental state of mind and quality of life. Here are four exercise tips that will easily help you keep healthy.

These four groupings of exercises should be seen as the main pillars of a healthy lifestyle,  but please don’t forget eating a nutritious diet and avoiding dangerous behaviors such as smoking or drinking in excess are also important to overall well being.

Strength Exercises

As we get older maintaining our muscle strength is vital to a long, healthy life. Once we enter our 50s, there can be a noticeable loss of muscle strength and mass; however, this is all dependent upon how we have maintained our bodies.  By staying active with strength exercises, we are able to slow the loss of muscle deterioration known as “sarcopenia.”  Muscles are important to our bodies for many reasons,  but as we age, their usage  becomes a priority  because exercising muscle tissue helps us keep our metabolism revving high, which in turn, has the effect of helping  to control our weight and blood sugar.

We suggest at least three strength-training sessions a week to help avoid muscle loss. The best type of exercises for aging bodies would be to focus on major muscle groups using roughly eight to 10 repetitions of your chosen activity.

Balance Exercises

According to the National Institute of Health, U.S. hospitals see over 300,000 admissions a year for broken hips.  The most common cause for this type of fracture is from an accidental fall with the majority of patients being seniors. Avoiding this type of debilitating injury helps us keep our independence as we age, which often aligns and improves our mental and emotional disposition in our “golden years.”

Though there are a lot of factors that are involved with the decrease of balance as we age, a lot of this decline is simply due to inactivity. Balance exercises should be done daily to help maintain our internal equilibrium systems. One of the best exercises is a simple slow squat. Starting in an athletic stance with your feet shoulder width apart slowly squat down focusing on keeping your hips flexed and upper body leaning slightly forward. A simple squat will help keep core muscles and balance systems stronger as we age.  

Stretching Exercises

Keeping your freedom of motion throughout your life helps to avoid difficulties in movement as we age. These types of exercises are especially beneficial for older adults because of their positive impact in the fight against arthritis, osteoporosis as well as the experience of having “stiff” or “sore” joints and muscles.

Working this type of exercise into your daily routine can be very simple. With roughly 15 minutes a day you can easily add a few core stretches into your morning or evening. The best way to do these exercises is to hold the position for roughly 30 to 60 seconds.

Endurance Exercises

Cardiovascular fitness is very important as we age.  Increasing your heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week will increase your energy levels, heart health and help you maintain a healthy weight. Any type of activity is perfectly acceptable (depending on your current fitness level) however, we recommend focusing on active hobbies that you enjoy.  This can be a walk on the beach, swim in the pool or even bike riding.  It is important to gradually increase the level of intensity or exertion   in this type of exercise over a period of time. Even if you only start with five minutes of physical activity, you can always use the rule of thumb of increasing your efforts by only 10 percent per week.

Much like other forms of retirement plans, our physical health is exactly like a 401(k).  By starting early and investing in our health, even with just small simple contributions, you will see that in the end the account will be worth much more than you expected.  Building healthy habits as early as possible will help you age gracefully, and should help provide you the freedom and ability to live life to its fullest. If you or a loved one has any questions or concerns about their physical health, you should set up an appointment with your doctor to develop a comprehensive wellness plan. Here at DOC we believe that it is much easier to prevent injury by improving wellness — so a little preventative care and beneficial medical direction now will always be better in the long term.

Raymond J. DeLorenzi, M.D., FAAOS, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in all aspects of comprehensive orthopedic and rehabilitative care. For more information, call (321) 622-8622 or visit DocDeLorenzi.com.

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