As we get older, sometimes our bodies just don’t seem to handle exercise as well as they used to. But the fact is, inactivity over time is to blame for many problems we previously thought were part of a natural aging process. That is to say, exercise can help prevent some aspects of aging!
If you are physically active, you can help prevent problems like a lower maximum heart rate, reduced muscle mass, bone loss, stiffened tendons and ligaments, and some joint or nerve problems. That said, you can’t prevent every health problem, because genetics plays a big part in your health. But physical activity offers many benefits!
As you get older, the same recommendations for physical activity apply to you. But there are some additional guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Heart Association for older adults who may have some health limitations:
- When you are unable to reach the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, you should do as much physical activity as you can.
- Adjust the intensity of your physical activity according to your fitness level. Pick activities that are fun and that you can do year round. Consider walking at the mall.
- If you are at risk of falling, do exercises that improve balance.
- If you have chronic health problems, be aware of how your conditions affect your ability to do regular physical activity safely.
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear.
- Find a companion to exercise with you for safety and for a social outlet.
- Take more time to warm up before and after your activity. Stretch slowly after your activity.
- Start your activity at a low intensity and progress gradually.
- If you plan to be active more than 30 minutes, try to drink some water every 15 minutes, especially during hot conditions. As you age, your sense of thirst is decreased; by the time you notice you are thirsty you may already be partially dehydrated.