We are experiencing global warming—we call it "Spring," and it happens magically and rhythmically every year. Even the coldest, harshest winters are followed by a Spring. Isn't that reassuring?
My title above comes from a quote from the late Paul Harvey, a personal hero of mine, whose oratory inspired listeners to use language as he did, not only to communicate, but to paint word pictures. This particular quote, as I recall, was made in the context of people who retire from careers, then fail to stay engaged in life. Now that the weather is nicer, it is time to talk about getting outside and exercising, engaging in all life has to offer.
I am privileged to care for a number of seniors who are in retirement. Many of these live at a local retirement community that is full of senior athletes. They are focused on living life to the fullest, making every minute count and enjoying it all. There are other seniors who would like to be more active, but their bodies are not cooperating as they once did. This article is for them.
How do you stay active as a senior? There are so many things pulling on your attention, such as family issues, grandchildren, repairing fences, taking care of the car, etc. Some retirees tell me that they had more time to invest when they were working. There is also the issue of bodies whose chassis have a lot of miles on them that produce occasional aches and pains. So, here are some hints.
First, pick an activity that you enjoy doing and perform it regularly. Make your exercise program as pleasant and as possible. If you feel exercising is a chore, you will be uncomfortable with the program and will not stay with it. If you can, ask a friend to exercise with you so you can support each other.
Second, begin your exercise program gradually, starting with five minutes of exercise each day. As you become more comfortable with the routine and notice
the positive effects of fitness, you may increase the exercise time by five minute increments.
If you have been inactive for some time, you may feel some small aches and pains. They will fade with time. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any
unusual pain, breathing problems or other symptoms while or after performing your exercises.
Check with your doctor of chiropractic or other health care provider before starting any exercise or physical fitness program. While exercise is beneficial to your health, depending on your health status, the type of exercises you perform can have profound effects on your health, both good and bad.
Develop a plan for an exercise program and stick with it. Make your exercise program an integral part of your normal daily activities–or use normal daily activities to help your muscles and bones become as healthy as possible. For example, this is a great time to get a puppy—they need and like to walk with you. You can talk to a puppy, too, and they keep your secrets.
Research shows that "functional exercises"—those that mimic actual daily activities, such as walking up and down stairs and getting in and out of a chair—can be quite effective. Stop taking the short cuts you might have done for years.
Some research suggests that people who live in two-story houses are less prone to certain types of heart disease. Repeatedly climbing a flight of stairs or rising from and returning to a seated position helps build leg strength and aerobic fitness. If you hold a weight during these exercises, you can increase your level of physical activity even further.
Household chores, such as vacuuming, loading and emptying the dishwasher, and moving wet laundry from the washer to the dryer can increase strength and flexibility. Lift with your legs when necessary.
As we age, we lose muscle mass. Some health care providers suggest that weight training will help prevent strength loss and keep patients feeling younger.
Unfortunately, many seniors find they can't lift the heavy weights necessary to actually build muscle mass. But don't be discouraged.
Recent studies show that while muscle strength diminishes with age, muscle endurance does not. It means that, as we get older, we may benefit from switching strength exercises to endurance exercises—working muscles with lighter weights but for a longer period of time. Exercises that emphasize endurance, such as dancing, walking, or bicycling, may be not only more beneficial but also more enjoyable.
Walking with a family member or friend (or puppy) helps your physical fitness—and helps build relationships. These exercises are also aerobic and will benefit your heart health. For people who cannot walk or ride a bike, there are endurance and flexibility enhancing exercises that can be performed in a chair.
I hope this helps someone. If you have aches and pains that prevent you from enjoying your outdoor exercise, give us a call. Many joint issues are easily addressed, and they should not keep you from living life to the fullest. Remember, "He who rests – rots."