There’s no need to slow down as you get older. In fact, every day in the perfect day to decide to get fit. For older adults, looking after yourself becomes more important which is why now is the time to focus on establishing an active lifestyle to keep you in good health. Exercising can add years to your life as well as drastically improving the quality of those years. If you think exercise just isn’t for you, you’re wrong! Check over our 7 tips to find the perfect way for you to keep fit.
1. Build a balanced exercise plan
Stop yourself getting bored of exercise by incorporating a number of different ways to stay active. Each form of exercise will benefit you in a different way so it’s a good idea to switch it up throughout the week to see improvements in all areas. The areas you should be focusing on are strength, flexibility and cardio.
Strength based activities help build up muscle, improve balance and prevent loss of bone mass. This can be great for limiting damage from injuries such as a fall and preventing injuries in the first place! Weight training is a great activity for building strength and can be done at home or in the gym.
Flexibility is important to keep joints supple and heathy. As you work on your flexibility, you’ll be surprised at the range of movement you gain. Decreased stiffness makes you less prone to injury and will increase your independence. Start with daily stretches or enrol in your local yoga or tai chi class.
Cardio is vital to get your heart racing and improve your overall fitness. With practice, you’ll notice an improvement in your energy levels and your abilities, not to mention the welcome workout for your organs. Anything that gets the heart pumping and lungs working can be considered cardio, but some common exercises include walking, swimming, tennis and hiking.
Pick an activity from each of the three main exercise groups and try to fit them all in on a weekly basis!
2. Choose an age appropriate activity
Exercise is great at any age but the best type of exercise for you can change as you get older. The types of activities that are most beneficial to older adults are generally less intense and less impactful on joints. You many already have a favourite exercise that works for you. If not, you can try out some of these options that are highly recommended for older adults.
- Walking! If you are new to exercise and want to build up your fitness, walking is the perfect gentle starter. And, the best part is that you can begin right now! You should invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes or boots to prevent incorrect posture, tired feet or blistering. Set off around your neighbourhood or head out to explore parks or woodland trails. Not only do you get fit, you’ll be able to appreciate some of your local scenery.
- Tai Chi is a gentle exercise originating in ancient China and great for people of all levels. Find a local class near you to reap the benefits of this slow yet effective form of exercise.
- Yoga studios have daily classes for all levels and all speeds. Talk to the yoga teachers at your local studio so they can match you with the best suited class. The gentle pace and range of poses in yoga is a great way to start building strength and flexibility.
3. Recruit a dog!
Sometimes reminders and willpower aren’t enough to convince yourself to get moving. Instead, you can employ a furry friend to keep you on your feet. Owning a dog means obligatory daily walks as well as plenty of playtime that can will keep you in parks and the great outdoors for longer.
If you don’t already have a dog but are interested in getting one, it’s worth noting that puppies can sometimes be too much to handle even for the most active of people. Instead, head to your local shelter and give someone a home. There are plenty of retired police dogs or racing dogs that are looking for somewhere cosy and comfortable to live out their life. If you aren’t in the position to get a dog, see if any of your neighbours need dog walking services or even volunteer at animal rescue centres and shelters.
4. Buddy up!
Keep yourself committed to your new exercise plan by finding a friend to do it with. Remember, you’re planning on sticking to your exercise goals for the long term so only couple up with someone who’s company you genuinely enjoy. Having a friend along for the ride transforms exercise from a chore to a fun activity and can prevent any beginner anxiety when joining a class. The best part is, you won’t want to let each other down which means you’ll both be more likely to stick to your exercise dates.
Your buddy might be able to suggest new and exciting activities you haven’t tried before and you’ll be able to improve your health whilst simultaneously having a good catch up. Not only will be keeping fit and healthy, your social life will also get a boost!
5. Be Safe
Hopefully, you’re raring to get stuck in to your new fitness hobby and start seeing all those benefits. Before you head to the gym or raid your local sports stores, make sure you book an appointment with your doctor. Let them know which activities you’re planning on starting and how much you want to do so they can give you medical clearance and some professional tips.
When you do start, begin slowly. Gradually build up your strength and fitness over time for the best results. If you jump in at the deep end you risk injury which could stop your exercise plans forever and seriously jeopardise your health. Make sure you warm up before exercise and warm down afterwards to prevent muscle and joint strain. You know your body and the extent of your abilities. It’s important that you keep listening to your body as you go. Exercise is supposed to feel good. If you’re having negative reactions to your practise, stop immediately and see a doctor.
6. Support exercise with diet
We all know that exercise and diet go hand in hand. Increasing levels of exercise can reduce fatigue, improve your mood and increase fitness levels. Unfortunately, you won’t experience any of these benefits if you gobble pizzas and fries on a daily basis. The food you eat has an incredible impact on your physical and mental health and if you’re serious about getting fit and healthy, you need to take a look at your diet too.
Do not panic! You don’t need to throw everything out of your cupboards and eat salads for the rest of your life. In fact, all you need to do is focus on preparing well-balanced and nutritious meals and make an effort to choose healthier options. The other essential idea is moderation. Of course, you are allowed a pizza if you want one but limit the amount of times you indulge in junk food and have them as a treat rather than a staple.
7. Stay Motivated
Despite everything, we know that committing to an exercise plan or instigating a lifestyle change can be difficult. The most important thing is to find a way for you to keep motivated. Your exercise plan should not only be created around your abilities and interests but should be adapted to your levels of motivation to give you the best shot at making it a long-term adjustment.
The dopamine hit you get from exercising might not be enough to bring you back which is why one option is to set up a reward system. Treat yourself whenever you hit a fitness goal or actually, whenever you feel like you need it! The promise of a trip to the theatre might be the push you need to get your swimsuit on.
It only takes a minimum of half an hour a day to start building up your general fitness. After a few weeks of commitment, we bet that exercise will become an integral part of your day and you’ll no longer need a plan to keep you staying active. So, get started today and take the first steps to improving your life.
Author: Molly Crockett shares her lifestyle and nutrition passions in her writing at Australian help. She loves to find and share new recipes while taking her audience on her diet journey.