Successful aging is measured not just by the quantity of our years, but by the quality and vitality of our life.
Living well and getting enough exercise delivers great benefits: energy, longevity, independence and illness prevention. Exercise is good for our physical and mental health, particularly as we age. The World Health Organization recommends adults over the age of 65 take part in 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Since the onset of COVID-19 however, it has been challenging for many to stay active. According to the Director of Wellness at Waterford Barrie Retirement Residence, “With social restrictions still in place, this is an especially important time for older adults to incorporate activity into their daily lives, whether they live at home or in a retirement residence.”
While you should check with your medical practitioner before adding to your level of activity and routine, Annemarie Welch shares five tips for seniors to get active -- even during a pandemic.
1. Do what you love
Find fitness activity that you like so it never becomes a chore. A great place to start is online where you’ll discover a variety of follow-along workouts for seniors. Look for ones that challenge your capabilities without going beyond them. Search YouTube for something new to learn – dancing, tai chi or an introduction to weightlifting. Love the outdoors? Take advantage of the fall weather and head outside for some fresh air and a walk. Walking is incredibly beneficial and lets you move your body while you clear your head. Just remember to take a mask with you just in case you come in contact with others.
2. Set yourself up for success
Whether you live in your own home or a retirement residence, invest in an exercise mat that makes it easy to perform a variety of low-impact exercises or stretches standing up, lying down, or on one’s knees. If your medical practitioner is in agreement, other equipment, such as weights, may also make workouts more challenging and help to build muscle and bone. Proper shoes may also help give you the support you need to perform exercises properly and safely.
3. Keep moving
Aim to adopt a movement-based lifestyle that keeps you active throughout the day. Luckily there are simple ways to move more. Walk around your home while you talk on the phone. Stand up and move around during TV commercial breaks. Walk instead of drive. And when it comes to planned exercise, remember that a short workout is better than nothing, so go with what works best for your schedule. “At the end of the day, less intense exercise and more mindfulness activity can help our residents wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep,” says Annemarie Welch at Waterford Barrie.
4. Fitness building blocks
A healthy workout regime often includes balance, flexibility, endurance and strength, but check with your medical practitioner before safely adding in new elements. Each component can deliver different benefits, and may help prevent boredom and reduce the risk of injury. Balance training, such as heel-to-toe walking and posture exercises, can strengthen core muscles and improves coordination. Flexibility moves such as stretching and yoga can help to improve range of motion. Endurance exercises such as walking and swimming use large muscle groups and increase our heart rate. Strength training can help keep muscles and bones healthy and strong by using weights or bands.
5. Stay the course
“When it comes to exercise, remember that it’s easier to keep going than to get going,” says Annemarie Welch, Director of Wellness at Waterford Barrie Retirement Residence. “Always follow medical advice and remember to take things slowly and listen to your body.” Don’t worry about where you’re starting from, just begin to move according to your ability, and keep with it so you don’t lose the gains you make.
Deciding to become more active is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Getting started can be challenging, but keep focused on the positive effects fitness has on your health, wellbeing and ability to cope during challenging times. Regardless of the weather (or even a pandemic), we can maintain fitness by being active at home. And don’t forget – enjoy your workout.
Article courtesy of Waterford Barrie Retirement Residence: www.siennaliving.ca
Photo: David Jewett getting ready for his bike ride.