Exercise not only makes the body feel good, but various kinds of physical training also enhance balance and agility, core strength and posture, and function and endurance. In addition to building stronger muscles, including the heart, and fortifying bones, working out engages the brain, making the individual more alert and responsive.
Importantly, too, those who regularly exercise benefit from a deeper, longer and more restful night of sleep, so they awake feeling more refreshed, better equipped to take on the day, and less inclined to trip up.
While many like to follow a simple routine that they enjoy, perhaps taking a daily walk, incorporating various types of conditioning delivers more than one important aspect of fitness.
Strength or resistance training, which fortifies muscles and builds bone mass to combat osteoporosis and frailty, is particularly important for older adults. Props include free-weights, exercise machines, and elastic bands, although some who are just starting out should begin with the motions first and later add the weights and bands.
Strength training proves most effective when performed two or three times per week on nonconsecutive days.
2. Balance exercises engage the mind and body as well. In addition to yoga and Tai
Chi, both of which promote balance, many professionally-designed guides (online,
on TV, and in print) offer ways for adults to practice and improve stability at home.
One example is to stand, holding onto a stable chair, and raise one leg for one minute. Next, repeat the movement with the other leg. Gradually increase your time of standing on one leg, and strive to do so without holding onto the support. Another goal is to balance with one’s eyes closed.
3. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, biking, swimming, and dancing, in addition
to yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi, improve cardio health, flexibility and endurance
without stressing the joints.
Warming up is essential, even before embarking on a low-impact workout. A toe stand exercise, for instance, strengthens and preps the calves and muscles before a breezy stroll in the park:
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and using a chair or counter for balance, count to four as you slowly push onto the balls of your feet. Stay on your toes for two to four seconds. After, return to your heels on a count of four.
4. All should make a point of stretching daily, and certainly before and after strength
training. Whether it’s ten minutes while seated in a chair or part of a more
comprehensive floor routine, stretching should create tension but not pain. Do not
hold a position that is painful.
Of course, make sure that you are medically approved for the exercises you’ve chosen and that you are not at risk of falling or otherwise injuring yourself while alone.
Keep in mind, too, that working with a qualified instructor, at least when starting out, provides assurance that you’re using the right weights in the proper stance or entering yoga positions correctly. Professional personal trainers and class instructors further assist in developing routines for optimal benefits. Best of all, exercising with others grants wonderful social benefits—friendship and fun, as well as encouragement and accountability!
Please feel free to contact Menders for more information about activities to improve and maintain your mobility, stability, strength and independence.