Looking for the secret to feeling great in your 60s, 70s, and beyond? The answer is…exercise! Staying fit provides a variety of benefits throughout life but is especially important as we age to protect our health.
Regular physical activity can give you more energy and put you in a better mood. It improves strength, endurance, and balance. It builds and maintains muscle and bone mass. Exercise can also improve brain health, decrease stress, support a healthy weight and help you sleep better.
Exercise may feel unsafe for some seniors who may be out of shape or just out of practice. Before you begin physical activity, consider if it is safe for your current fitness level. If you are not sure, check with your doctor. If you have any heart issues such as chest pain or irregular heartbeat, you should also check with your doctor before engaging in any vigorous activity.
If a certain exercise is too much for you, modify in some way to make it safer and easier in the beginning. Try using a lighter weight or setting a slower pace – do not push yourself too hard. For example, if you are not ready to swim laps, take a water aerobics class until you build up enough stamina. Get started with a low impact exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, pilates, or tai chi.
Make a Plan
Create an exercise plan that will you help you reach your goals. Keep the plan reasonable and easy to start. The important thing is to establish a habit – if you make it easy for yourself from the start, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. After a month or so, consider how to gradually increase your activity – by increasing the time, intensity, or distance. You could also work with a certified health coach or personal trainer for support in setting reasonable goals and safely increasing the intensity of your workouts.
Exercise Benefits for Members
As a CHPW Medicare member, you can get a free basic gym membership or two free home exercise kits per year with the Silver & Fit program. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart failure, COPD or asthma, you may be eligible for free health coaching over the phone. Our trained Health Coaches can help you get started with a workout routine and support you along the way. Email PopHealthRequests@chpw.org to find out if you’re eligible for health coaching.
Take the first step towards fitness today. Whether it’s walking, swimming or yoga, getting started is the best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing.
Lisa Henderson, MS, RDN