Staying active at every age is one of the secrets to a long, healthy life.
But, despite best intentions, it can be difficult to motivate yourself into beginning – and sticking to – a regular exercise routine. Physical constraints or a busy schedule may create a barrier to getting adequate exercise, but it is important to prioritize physical activity into your schedule, especially as you age and your body changes.
It's never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle and reap the benefits of active aging. Even light daily exercises can improve your body's wound-healing process, prevent disease, foster greater independence and even increase your mental capacity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that individuals age 65 and older try to incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise into each week. While this may sound like a lot, breaking it down into 10- or 15-minute chunks of exercise two or more times a day can make it much more manageable—and enjoyable! Think about finding a simple way to exercise right when you wake up, before or after you eat lunch, and again before you get ready for bed.
Exercising doesn't need to take place in a gym or even outdoors. A great way to keep in the habit of healthy movements is to incorporate small exercises into your otherwise inactive moments during the day. Do you need to reach to retrieve a glass from your cupboard? Grab the glass, return it to the cupboard, and repeat the action with your alternate arm. Are there stairs where you live? Challenge yourself to use them instead of a ramp or elevator. Do you regularly watch TV? Try to get up from your chair and walk around the house during commercial breaks. It's these little, daily actions that can make a huge positive impact on your health in the long-term.
If you prefer staying active outdoors, going on a light stroll, gardening, raking leaves and fishing are all excellent activities. Or, if you like participating in your community, becoming a volunteer at local events is another great way to stay active while making a difference in the lives of others. It's a win-win!
Even these seemingly small acts can make a big difference in improving and maintaining your health. Performing daily exercises slows the loss of muscle, strengthens bones and reduces joint problems. Keeping up on exercise also greatly improves your balance, which reduces your risk of falling and suffering a serious injury like a fractured hip or head trauma.
The key to incorporating exercise into your life is to develop a routine that fits your wishes and needs. What works for one person, may not work for you—and that's okay. Developing a realistic exercise plan that works for your body and schedule is always most important.
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