Spring has officially arrived in much of the country. There are a few pockets of rough weather throughout, but at least on the calendar, we’re all celebrating the arrival of more sunshine and warmer temperatures. Winter has a way of making us sedentary. Sometimes that is good if you’re overworking yourself and running in busyness. If it lasts for too long, however, it can be difficult to overcome the inertia to get up and move again once the warmer weather hits. But staying on the sofa is not a viable option.
Seniors who lead a sedentary lifestyle are much more prone to weight gain. They are also much more likely to have health problems than their active counterparts. Movement can keep your mind active and your body healthier. It can also boost endorphins and lift your spirits through hormonal means. The mind/body connection is powerful here. If you get out and about for longer periods of time, you will most definitely feel better about life, but you might find that you sleep better at night, too. This will be especially effective if you are able to spend some of your active time in the outdoors and fresh air.
What types of exercises are appropriate for those who are aging? Nothing strenuous is required. If you’ve been a body builder your entire life, please disregard this statement. Most of us require basic, natural movement and muscle toning on a regular basis, along with stretching to remain flexible. It’s also a good idea to get your heart rate up through cardiovascular exercise occasionally, but you needn’t do and aerobics workout to obtain this.
1st: Walk. Start out by walking regularly. Walking outside on different types of inclines and declines is the best way to start out on you journey again. It’s much easier to talk yourself into walking up the road a bit than to walk on a treadmill, but if you live in a place that makes that impossible, hop right on the treadmill. Brisk walking will begin to get your blood flowing and get your heart rate up without you having to do strenuous workouts to reach your goals.
2nd: Another part of being able to maintain your health as you get older is to be able to continue to move your body and engage in activities that are normal for daily life. Being able to get up from the floor, for instance, to a standing position without much difficulty, is important. Rolling onto your side and rising to a sitting position is also important. Basic reaching, light lifting, and cross-over movements will keep you more stable on your feet and make you less prone to falling. If you have questions about exercise regimens built around these ideas, search YouTube for natural movements exercises. You’ll find a wealth of information to begin.
3rd: Muscle toning is also important. Before you go out and buy a set of weights, look around your house for handy alternatives. A jug of milk weighs about 8 pounds. A half-gallon weighs about 4 pounds. Use a half gallon to do different lifting exercises with your arms. Work on your biceps and triceps while moving around the groceries! Lift things up from the floor, but instead of just doing it one time, do it in repetition in order to strengthen your back and shoulders. Attempt some core exercises like sit-ups or crunches as a part of your natural movements exercises so that your body maintains every bit of muscle tone that it already has, then begin building more.
Finally, practice a bit of stretching in order to maintain flexibility. Keeping our bodies from stiffening can become a part time job as we age! Focus on one area at a time while you stretch and make sure you’ve thoroughly stretched it before moving on. I always begin with my neck and shoulders because that is where I tend to carry my tension, but you may be different. Do what works for you, just be sure that you are doing it! At the end of your stretching, it can be fun to lie on the floor, tighten all your muscles for five seconds and then relax them all intentionally at once. If you are not able to do this, lie there and focus on relaxing each part of your body, one at a time beginning with your neck and jaw and working downward to your toes. It’s amazing that we sometimes do not realize that we have muscle groups that are tense until we go through this exercise. If we do this and find areas of tension that we were unaware of beforehand, it’s good to go back and stretch them, as well.
After any kind of exercise be sure to hydrate to move any toxins out of your body. This also gives your body something to work with to keep going throughout your day.
Whatever you decide to do to stay fit, just make sure you’re doing it on a regular basis to reap the greatest reward and to benefit your body, mind and mood the most. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s routine, it simply needs to work for you!