By Ann Lindemann, Senior Health Writer
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would argue with the idea that exercise is a good thing, regardless of the number of candles on your birthday cake. But here’s something you might not know: research proves it’s never too late to start, even if you’ve been a lifelong couch potato! Exercise triggers the growth of new mitochondria, the powerhouse of your body’s cells. Importantly, regular exercise serves as an independent living insurance policy… be it now or a decade or two from now.
Be sure to check in with your doc before beginning any new exercise plan. Then, armed with the go-ahead, think tortoise not hare; start slowly and build up gradually.
Five Ways To Get Your Motor Running
- Make a Plan Stan – You already jot down upcoming appointments and events, why not pencil exercise in too? Write down what day(s) of the week, time of day, duration and the activity. And be as specific and realistic as possible. Keep setting and reviewing your goals weekly for at least three months. This is a great way to stay on track and create an exercise habit for life.
- Stamina for Life – Endurance/aerobic exercise improves the health of your heart, lung and circulatory system. Not only will you be healthier, but you’ll also have more stamina for daily independent living tasks like climbing stairs and grocery shopping. What’s more, endurance exercises and high-intensity interval training may help fight many age-related diseases. Walking, dancing, biking, and swimming are just a few of the many good options. Also, look for exercise classes targeted to seniors. Grab a friend and turn exercise into a social event that you don’t want to miss!
- Living Strong – Strengthening exercise does more than just make you stronger. Like aerobic exercise, these exercises make a difference in everyday independent living. And studies show that even small muscle increases can benefit metabolism, helping you keep weight and blood sugar in check. Other research suggests strength exercises can prevent osteoporosis. Pumping iron in the gym is just one option. There are low cost (as little as $20!) alternatives to dumbbells that can be used in the privacy of your home. Exercise tubing and bands are versatile and effective.
- Fabulous Flexibility – These exercises help keep your body limber by stretching your muscles and the tissues that hold your body’s structures in place. Stretching helps patients recover from injuries and prevent falls in the first place. Check out a yoga or stretching class or find a good instructional DVD or book.
- Balance Basics – Balance exercises are an important – though often neglected – component of senior exercise routines. Good balance helps prevent falling, which can cause major injuries and ultimately loss of independence. Think of ways to integrate balance exercises into daily life such as brushing your teeth while standing on one foot. If you’re concerned about falling have someone stand nearby to assist if necessary.