Let's Get Moving!By Charlotte Zang
We’ve all heard that exercise is important: it helps us live longer and healthier. When we move often and stay active, that means we can remain self-reliant. Maintaining our independence is what we’re all about, right?
There are many benefits to exercise, no matter what form you choose. Energy creates energy, so when you exercise, your brain and nervous system release endorphins – those hormones that make us feel good. The saying goes, “You’re only one workout away from a good mood.”
Have you ever heard anyone say, “I wish I hadn’t worked out today?” No! That’s because afterwards we are flush with endorphins. We are pumped up! We get a sense of accomplishment and feel better about ourselves all over.
In addition to making us feel good, exercise improves balance. That’s important because seniors are at greater risk for fall-related injuries than others. The National Council on Aging says that regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%.
An active lifestyle is definitely linked to better health. Exercise can help prevent or reduce symptoms of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression. And a study by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation found that regular exercise improves brain function and can reduce the risk of developing the disease by nearly 50%. Fifty percent! Makes you want to get up and take a walk right now, doesn’t it?
Now that you’re fully convinced of the benefits of exercise, you’re probably ready to put on your sweats. Take a breath. You need to know the safest way to go about it. Don’t start without talking to your doctor first. Get some recommendations on which exercises would be best suited to your fitness level. Some possibilities include:
- Walking: Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer. Plus it can be a social activity – take a friend and chat the whole time!
- Water aerobics: Gives natural resistance without weights, plus there is less stress on joints
- Chair Yoga: Low impact plus it improves mental health and sleep quality
- Resistance bands: Strengthens your core which improves mobility and balance
- Body weight workouts: Counteracts the effects of muscle atrophy
- Strength training: Contributes to higher metabolism and better glucose control
For those with grandchildren, there are lots of ways to get in some steps. Put the baby in the stroller and take a walk around the neighborhood. Play hide and seek with toddlers. Have a catch. Kids of all ages like to go swimming, so join the Y and get moving!
You can find ways to be active all year long. Take dance lessons, build a snowman, work in the garden, ride a bike, go bowling, try yoga… even shopping counts if you do lots of walking!
And don’t forget about pickleball! It’s so much fun and there are many opportunities for seniors to play, inside or out. Check out www.playtimescheduler.com for games near you. Everybody was a beginner at one point, so there is no judgment. All skill levels are welcome. It’s a wonderful way to make new friends and stay active.