Don't "Fall" Behind With Your Exercise Program!
Dr. Shawn A Weiss, PT, DPT, CDP, CADDCT
Select Home Care, LLC
As Fall is upon us, most of us are thinking of the cooler days ahead, bonfires, and football season! However, it is important to not let the less frequent opportunities for outdoor activity stop you from getting your daily dose of exercise!
Let’s first dispel the myths many individuals over 50 have about Aging and Exercise!
5 Myths about Exercise and Aging
Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.
Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Myth 2: Older people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest.
Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for adults over 50. Inactivity often causes older adults to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.
Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.
Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.
Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising
Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.
Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.
Fact: Chair–bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.
Focus on the Benefits of Exercise In Your Daily Life
The most rewarding part of beginning a fitness routine is noticing the difference it makes in the rest of your life. Even if you begin exercising with a few simple stretches while seated or a short walk around the block, you’ll notice an improvement in how you feel as you go about your day.
House cleaning, gardening, shopping, and errands. Want to feel less winded while vacuuming or rushing to and from appointments? Doing just 15 to 20 minutes of heart-healthy cardio each day, such as walking, biking, swimming, or water aerobics will help give you the stamina you need.
Lifting grandchildren, carrying groceries, household chores. Building muscle mass a few times each week through weight lifting, resistance exercises, and weight machines will help give you more strength.
Crossing the street before the lights change, catching yourself before you fall. Power exercises such as tricep dips, chair squats, or other strength exercises performed quickly, can improve strength, speed, and reaction times.
Tying shoes, looking behind you while driving, navigating steps. Incorporating basic stretching—even while seated—into your fitness routine will make the most ordinary movements easier. Try yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong to limber up.
Do shoulder rolls and shoulder shrugs while watching TV.
No weights? Use food cans or filled water bottles!
Rent exercise videos from the library.
Rake leaves, weed the flower beds.
Climb the stairs in your home.
One of my most often recommended types of exercise is walking! You can do it alone, with friends or family members, especially if you are using an assistive device. Walking doesn’t just have to be performed outside! It can be done in a variety of settings, such as grocery stores, malls, or even inside your home. Research has been phenomenal in recent years on the benefits of daily walking in the prevention of disease and improving overall health. Studies from The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard University, and the Nurses’ Health Study have given staggering statistics that will make you want to start a walking program today!
If you are not currently a regular walker, then it is always advised that you see your physician to get clearance to start a basic walking program. ** If you feel that you have trouble walking or are afraid of falling, then a visit to a local physical therapist may provide valuable assistance in helping you to improve your safety and gait pattern!
Here are some of the wonderful benefits of doing daily walking:
Controlling your blood pressure: Activity strengthens your heart so that it can pump more blood with less effort. Staying fit can be just as effective as some medications in controlling your blood pressure.
Decreasing your risk of heart attack: Walking just 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart disease by 30 to 40%! It doesn’t need to be all at once!
Lowering your risk of stroke: Walking for an hour a day, 5 days a week can cut the risk of stroke in half!
Reducing your risk of breast cancer and Type 2 Diabetes: The Nurses’ Health Study that spanned 20 years and 72,000 females, links regular activity with a reduction in both diseases.
Gall stone surgery: Regular walking or other physical activity lowers the risk of needing gallstone surgery by 20 to 31% according to a Harvard University Study.
Protecting against hip fractures: with all types of consistent activity.
Reduce stress levels.
Relieve arthritis pain.
Strengthen muscles and bones.
***TIPS FOR KEEPING IT STEADY:
During daily walking you should be able to maintain a conversation. If you are breathing too heavy, please slow down to a comfortable pace. If you are new to a walking program, start with 10 to 15 min of daily walking and add minutes each week!
** There are many great online resources on health and fitness for all age levels, even for those who may have preexisting conditions such as Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, MS, COPD, and even post-stroke! Please “like” Select Home Care’s Facebook page where I frequently post educational articles related to senior health and fitness! Please also visit our redesigned website at www.selecthomecare.net for valuable links to many national health organizations!