Aging is inevitable, however -- how you age is entirely up to you. Exercising, getting enough rest, and eating a well balanced diet sets a great foundation for overall health, both in your younger years and as you age.
Staying healthy as you age helps to lower your chances for illness and disease, including (but not limited to):
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
In addition to protecting yourself from serious conditions, exercising and staying fit helps to protect your physical structure against falls, arthritis, and broken bones.
Safe exercise at all ages
Whether you work out every day or have never worked out all, there is something to learn about safe exercise. Fitness routines need to adapt to where you're at in life. What you could once do at 20 might not be safe for you at 50. An easy-to-remember rule for when you're ready to get active is to make sure your body is ready for your workout too.
To reduce the risk of injury during exercise, follow these simple tips:
- Warm up before every workout. Much like a car can't go 0-60 in one second, your body can't either. Try doing a brisk walk on the treadmill or ten minutes on the elliptical to get your body ready for the rest of your workout.
- Stretch, and then stretch again. Yes, you read that right. Stretch before your warm-up. Help your muscles loosen up to avoid tightness and injury. And when you're done with your workout, stretch again. This helps to prevent cramping and muscle aches.
- Change it up. If you have always lifted weights freestyle, try moving to a machine. When aging starts changing your body (muscle tone, strength, etc.) it can be safer to use a machine to avoid injury.
- Listen to your body. Only you can know your limits, and your limits will change as you age. It's important to listen to your body when its telling you the weights are too heavy or that was one too many sets. A good indication that you're pushing yourself too hard is if after a workout, you have muscle pain that lasts longer than a couple of days and does not get better with OTC medicine like Advil or Tylenol.
The exercise you need
The older you get, the less it matters how many exercises you can manage to do. In fact, there are really just four exercises that you need to stay fit as you age. These exercises include cardiovascular movement (cardio), balance, flexibility, and strength training. So, what does that look like? Focus on exercises, such as:
- Walking and running
- Jumping rope
- Biking, both stationary and outdoors
- Aerobics, like swimming and dancing
The key to making your motion count is to try and do these workouts for at least 30 minutes and on most days.
How you can start
Healthy aging requires more than diet and exercise, which is why the best place to start is with your primary care provider. Discover where you're at with your health, what barriers you might face, and how you can successfully get to your healthiest self.
Your primary care provider knows your health, not just when you're sick. If you're wanting to eat healthier, but don't know where to start or what is considered healthy for you and your body, talk to your doctor. If you want to exercise but don't quite move like you used to, talk to your doctor. If you want to stay healthy and fit as you age... talk to your doctor.
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