We began talking about the importance of exercise in the last blog post on conversations you should have with your physician. Exercise plays an important role in reducing falls as well as keeping you healthy and strong. Proper, regular exercise helps deal with ailments such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, balancing problems, difficulty walking, and more. Your doctor can help you pick the best exercise routine for your physical needs and capabilities, so speak with him/her before starting an exercise program.
Watch the video below by Dr. Pam Peak, author of Fit to Live, talk about the importance of exercise.
There are four types of exercise that seniors can incorporate into their daily routine that will provide significant long-term benefits.
1. Endurance Exercises
Cardio endurance exercises improve your heart and circulatory system by increasing your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Your body will be better able to deliver and receive oxygen and nutrients as well as remove waste from your system with endurance exercises. They can include activities such as dancing, walking, swimming, cycling, and tennis.
2. Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening exercises focus on your muscle tissue and helps reduce muscle loss, prevent bone loss, and increase balance to keep from falling. As the name suggests, these exercises will help increase your strength to perform activities such as carrying groceries, opening jars, and standing from a seated position (perhaps a chair or your car). Wrist and arm curls, chair dips, and toe stands are types of strengthening exercises you can do from the convenience of home.
3. Stretching & Flexibility Exercises
Increase your freedom of movement with stretching and flexibility exercises. These exercises help you remain limber and flexible by increasing your joints’ range of motions. Activities such as playing with your grandchildren and bathing will be easier as you perform exercises such as shoulder and upper-arm raises and the stretching of your neck, back, chest, shoulder, thigh, and more.
4. Balancing Exercises
Balancing exercises are one of the most important exercise types you can do to prevent falls, though all will contribute to overall health and lessen the likelihood of a fall. They help maintain stability as you stand and move about by improving balance and posture. Tai Chi, yoga, hip extensions, back leg raises, and proper posture/walking exercises are all types of balancing exercises.
Many of these exercises can be done in your house or in your neighborhood and do not require a gym membership. However, there are group health facilities that offer these exercises and provide a place for fellowship, trained supervisors, and organized classes. In Knoxville, you may want to look at the YMCA, Ft Sanders Health & Fitness, or read the Knoxville-News Sentinel article on senior fitness.
With any exercise, be sure that you have a brief warm-up and cool-down period. Also:
• Drink plenty of water to keep from getting dehydrated
• Wear appropriate garments and safety equipment
• Breathe as you exercise (possible patterns: exhale during exertion and inhale during release; two quick breaths through the nose & two breaths out through the mouth; 3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio; etc)
• Start with light weights and gradually increase the weights as you become more comfortable
• Pay attention to your body. Stop if you feel dizzy, nauseous, or have joint pain
There are many online videos to demonstrate proper form for the exercises listed above. Visit YouTube for a variety of senior fitness videos such as techniques for a knee press and hamstring stretch, testimonies of tai chi benefits, and more. Have an exercise you enjoy doing? Share your experiences by leaving a comment for other readers!