Are you concerned about the cost of care in your later years? Worried that you will not be able to maintain your independence and be active? If you answered yes to either of these questions, one of the best tools to help you achieve your goals is improving your physical fitness level. A regular exercise program is essential and becomes even more important after age 60.
No. 1: It will extend years of active, independent life – Older adults who find one hour per week to exercise regularly report feeling stronger, more energetic and happier.
No. 2: Exercise does not have to be hard, fast and pounding to reap rewards – “No pain, no gain” is a myth. Moderate exercise is all you need and to reduce the chance of injury. Low-impact cardio training is better than running and in some case even walking. Additionally, resistance training not only improves posture and stamina, it is also the least likely to cause an injury.
No. 3: Use it or lose it – If you have ever broken a bone and had an arm or leg casted, you know first-hand what atrophy is all about. We lose muscle after 40 but it does not have to be very much. With the addition of resistance training, modified to meet your needs, the rate of loss can be cut in half and declines can be reversed with measurable improvements within six weeks of starting a program.
No. 4: It may prevent a bad fall – A decline in balance can be caused by a lack of exercise and an increase in sedentary activities. Research shows that a simple stretching program improves the balance of older adults. Building muscle also builds tendons and bones, reducing the risk for falls and fractures.
No. 5: Exercise can improve serious medical conditions – Exercise can have a major impact on reducing your risk for diabetes and improving the life for those with diabetes. Terrific results can also be obtained in reducing blood pressure. Arthritis responds well to exercise with improved range of motion and a reduction in pain, and those who have had a knee or hip replacement must undertake appropriate exercise to make a full recovery.
No. 6: It may reduce medication needs and give you a lot more zip – The average 65-year-old is taking several medications. With an exercise program that promotes weight loss and improvements in strength, balance and flexibility, medications can often be reduced and in some cases eliminated.
Ron Cain is an ISSA-certified personal trainer with Oak Bay’s Fit for Life, a fitness studio for those age 55-plus.