Did you know regular exercise could be your Fountain of Youth? Studies have shown that even just within a two-year training period, cardiovascular health can be improved by up to 20% when starting exercise in middle age; that’s a 5 to 10-year improvement in cardiovascular age!
Not only will consistent exercise help with your heart health, but other important benefits include:
- Helping to maintain muscular strength and bone density, which can slow the progression of osteoporosis
- Helping to prevent falls or reduce the level of injury and improve recovery, if a fall were to occur
- Slowing age-related cognitive decline and improving your mental state, which helps alleviate feelings of depression
- Preserving the ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) to allow a safe and independent lifestyle for a longer time
It can be overwhelming to get started on a new exercise program, but it’s never too late to start! You will still reap the benefits, even if you have lived a sedentary lifestyle until now. However: be sure to speak with your physician prior to making any major lifestyle changes, including diet or exercise.
The National Institute on Aging at NIH recommends incorporating the following four types of exercise in your workouts. We’ve included suggestions for how you can accomplish these activities:
Aerobic: Any exercise that increases your heart rate and breathing
- On your own – walking, swimming, using a stationary bike or elliptical
- Join a class – Zumba and Ballroom Dance
- Strength: Also referred to as resistance training; utilizes exercises that develop strength and endurance in muscles as well as increase bone density through lifting/moving weight or resistance
- On your own – Nautilus Equipment, TRX Straps, TheraBands, Free Weights, Bodyweight Exercises
- Join a class – Total Body Class; Personal Training
- Balance: Exercises aimed to improve the ability to remain steady on your feet, or recover if you begin to stumble
- On your own – utilize a balance pad and ballet barre to test your stability (stand on one foot, “tightrope walking”, etc.)
- Join a class – Core, Stretch and Balance Class, Tai Chi
- Flexibility: The stretching of major muscle groups to improve or maintain the mobility of muscles and joints
- On your own – utilize the stretch strap or TheraBands
- Join a class – Core, Balance and Stretch Class and Yoga
While the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 3-5 days of aerobic exercise per week, plus additional strength, balance and flexibility training, there is no need to jump into a new exercise routine too quickly! Your body will need time to transition and acclimate to these lifestyle changes, and drastic changes can increase your risk of injury and/or decrease your motivation. Speak with your physician about your health needs to determine which type of exercise you would benefit from most and start there.
by Kasey Jenkins, EP-C