The start of May marks the beginnings of both National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and Older Americans Month. Upon first glance, the two may seem entirely separate — but growing older doesn't mean you no longer need to exercise. It's a proven fact that active older adults are healthy older adults. In this article, we'll tell you how to recommit to your fitness safely and effectively."
How Active Should You Be?
It's a given that aging bodies respond to things a little differently than their younger counterparts. . Regardless, staying active is still an important part of staying healthy, even as you age. On average, adults over the age of 65 need:
- 150 minutes ( two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes (an hour and a quarter) of vigorous-intensity activity a week
- At least two days of muscle-strengthening exercises a week
- Balance-improving activities
Note that these requirements don't take chronic conditions into account. Any exercise is better than none at all; if you can't meet these goals, be as physically active as your health will allow.
As important as it is for older adults to stay active, studies show that only 15.3% of men and 10.8% of women over the age of 65 meet these requirements. Not getting enough exercise increases your risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and more. That's why it's important to take steps towards becoming active if you aren't already.
Setting Fitness Goals
Starting an exercise program at 65 or older might seem like a daunting task, but it's more simple than you think. The trick is to set attainable fitness goals and plans to help you meet them. Here's how to start:
Choose Your Preferred Exercise Method
While exercise options may become more limited with age, there are still plenty of physical acitivies seniors can get involved in — and have fun while doing them. Do you enjoy long walks? Swimming? Yoga? Choose what exercises you'd like to focus on in order to meet your goals.
Create Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
The first step in your fitness program is creating both short and long-term goals for yourself. Short-term goals will help you incorporate fitness into your daily life, while long-term goals give you something to work toward.
Write a Plan to Meet Your Goals
Once you have your goals, create a plan to help you meet them. This can include specific exercises, lifestyle changes such as diet and sleep schedule, and even preparation tasks such as scouting exercise locations. Be sure to discuss your plan with your healthcare provider if you have any specific health conditions.
Update Your Plan Regularly
Setting goals and making a plan aren't one-time affairs. As you progress on your fitness journey, you'll need to update your goals — and therefore your plan — regularly. This will help keep you focused and motivated.
How To Get Started
Once you have your goals and your plan, you can get started with your exercise routine. Here are a few tips to start off strong and minimize the risk of injury:
This is especially important if you're not used to exercising. As tempting as it may be to give 100% from the start, you're more likely to injure yourself if you start with high-intensity exercises. Start slow and work your way up to give your body time to get accustomed to your exercise plan.
Warming up your muscles before exercising will help you get the most out of your workout. While the muscles you'll use will vary between exercises, it's a good idea to set aside 5-10 minutes to stretch beforehand.
Dehydration can sneak up on you. Make sure to drink water before, during, and after your workout in order to compensate for sweating. This is doubly important if you're exercising outside in warm weather.
You might not think that how you dress impacts your workout performance, but it does. Make sure to wear comfortable, temperature-appropriate attire that doesn't restrict your movement and comfortable, supportive shoes that won't hurt your feet while exercising.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
If you're exercising outdoors, be sure to pay close attention to your surroundings. Watch out for traffic, people, animals, and any terrain hazards such as potholes. An injury will set you back much longer than the few seconds it takes to avoid them.
Keep Your Golden Years Golden with Arnot Health
Staying active is important to maintain your health, but for older adults, it rarely ends there. If you're a senior in need of medical care, come to Arnot Health. We offer a range of specialty services, including orthopedic care and heart care, as well as primary care services for those in need of general treatment. Don't wait — find a provider near you today and receive the quality care you deserve.