We are all probably aware that exercise is good for us. It improves our overall functioning, both physically and mentally. It not only helps us live longer, healthier lives, but it also goes a long way in keeping us more independent as we age and allowing us to continue to participate in many of the activities that we enjoy. It improves our mood, and it feels good for our body. Exercise has found to be an effective treatment for many health concerns such as depression, diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. It can prevent or delay the onset of other health conditions as well. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, those who are inactive are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. They also have a higher risk of hospitalization and are dependent upon more medications than those who remain active throughout their lives.
It is easy for anyone to make excuses about exercising. We are too busy, too tired, unmotivated at times. As we age we have even more excuses at our fingertips. Aches and pains, lack of stamina, feeling the need to “take it easy”. These things add up and over time a lot of older adults become more inactive as they age, when it is actually a time in our lives that it is more important than ever to stay fit. There are many moderate endurance activities that are recommended for older adults such as walking, swimming, dancing, tennis, golf, and bicycling. Make your exercise program a priority, and to help with this try to keep it interesting and fun. Make it a social activity if possible.
If you have not been active in a long time, start slowly and build up your endurance over time. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program and ask what is safe for you given any medical conditions, or to learn how to modify certain activities to avoid any problems. If you smoke, are obese, or diagnosed with any chronic health problems such as heart disease or diabetes, your doctor can give you the best advice on which activities will be the most beneficial to you. Time is precious and we only get one chance at life, make yours the best that it can be!