Age is just a number. You can look, feel, and act years different than what your driver's license might disclose.
Some older adults let that number stand in their way, thinking they're too old to start an exercise program. That sentiment couldn't be further from the truth. By incorporating fitness, men and women over the age of 60 can improve their lives in so many ways.
A well-rounded program includes strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and stretching. Cardio will keep your heart healthy, stretching will keep you limber; and (perhaps, surprisingly) it's hitting the weights that can supply some of the greatest health benefits.
You can alleviate back pain with just two months of proper strength training. A fitness professional can show you how to incorporate exercises that use your lumbar spine with full range of motion. Years of research shows that strengthening your back muscles make you less prone to injury… whether shoveling the snow or bending down to pick something up.
But if you were to get injured, all that weight training will help safeguard your bones specifically in the case of a fall. Strength exercise significantly increases bone mineral density with just months of use. It can also help arthritic pain through the development of stronger muscles, bones, and connective tissue.
If you have less aches and pains, you will be able to enjoy life a little more. Maybe you'll start moving more, too. That's where the cardio comes in. Cardiovascular exercise can be anything from talking a brisk stroll around the block, spending a few hours gardening, or logging some laps in the pool.
When it comes to losing weight, cardio is an effective tool because it helps burn calories. But, aerobic exercise is also the best natural medicine for your heart. No matter your age or the activity you choose, remember to start slow. Adding 10 minutes to your regime every week will keep you making progress.
Old and young alike tend to forget to stretch. It's often an overlooked part of fitness. But adding 15-20 minutes of stretching every day can improve and maintain your range of motion. By staying flexible, everyday activities will become easier.
Besides the physical benefits, exercise can help you mentally and emotionally. Some research shows that physical activity can actually increases an older person's intelligence. You become more alert. The release of hormones during exercise can even improve depression. Plus, there is a great social aspect to exercising as you age.
If you exercise in a gym at the same time every day, you will get to know other "regulars." As people become familiar, you'll be able to strike up conversations with them and workout alongside them. Fitness classes geared towards seniors accomplish this by providing the physical benefits of being active with the added emotional advantage of meeting a whole new group of people.
Even if you start out exercising for your health, it is possible to have fun while doing it, too. That, combined with improved self-esteem will make sticking with it a lot easier. For ideas on how to get started, email the author at email@example.com.
Michelle Fiscus writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com. Michelle and her husband own a personal training and nutrition business based in Frederick County and hold industry certifications and credentials.