It’s never too late to start exercising, and doing so is key to being healthy.
With inactivity, the human body may lose up to 10 pounds of muscle each decade. At the same time, cardiovascular fitness may also decline and metabolism will slow, causing weight gain.
The good news is: Most of this is reversible with an exercise program and routine. Basic strength training offers benefits for adults of all ages, even someone in their 70s and beyond.
The results of exercise may not be immediately visible on the outside, but they are significant. Benefits may include lowered cholesterol, reduced blood pressure and enhanced insulin sesitivity. And, it is not only good for you physically, but research also supports mental health and cognitive benefits. It’s one of the best investments you can make in your overall health.
Here are six tips on exercising at all ages
1. Think in small increments. Some exercise is better than none, and any amount will offer health benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardiovascular exercise, like walking or biking, at least five days a week for 30 minutes most days. Adding two to three days of strength or resistance training per week will help guard against muscle loss.
2. Focus on four basic categories of exercise. These include endurance, strength training, balance and flexibility. As we age, balance and flexibility become more important. Try to find activities that incorporate all of these areas each week. Yoga or pilates enhance balance and flexibility. Cardiovascular activities like biking, running and walking are good for endurance. Inexpensive weights or resistance bands are an easy and affordable way to add strength training.
3. Your exercise routine may change and that’s okay. Exercise routines will change throughout one’s life. For example, during the 20s, there is a greater focus on group-related and organized sports, boot-camp activities and group classes. In their 30s, people may be stretched with careers and children, so less formal activities may work best. In their 40s and 50s, many people find a home routine or may explore yoga or pilates classes or videos at home. For people in their 60s, 70s and older, gentle movement classes such as tai chi, gentle yoga and others may be a favorite option.
4. Stand on one foot. It sounds so simple, but is so helpful for maintaining or improving balance. Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth or do other routine tasks. If you are concerned about balance, be sure to practice this in a protected area.
5. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Sitting for extended periods of time is hard on your body and may lead to health issues. Even a little bit of activity will help. Get up, do some squats, take a short walk or climb stairs.
6. Find something you enjoy. If you find an activity you like, you’re more likely to do it.
Gail Ericson is a physical therapist with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing‘s LiveWell Fitness Center. She has 25 years of experience in exercise therapy and medical fitness. To make an appointment with her, call 612-863-5178.