Yes, it’s true. As we age, we tend to slow down. However sometimes reduced activity is self-induced rather than a natural part of the aging process. Too often we consciously choose to limit or even eliminate exercise either due to misconceptions about our own physical abilities or health (i.e., knee osteoarthritis, coronary illness) or we substitute other non-active past times such as watching television. Whatever the reason for the slow down, now is the time to change this pattern of inactivity by including regular physical exercise into your day. Here are eight tips on how to reinvigorate your life:
See a doctor. Before you do anything else, it is important that you get guidance from a professional who understands your medical history and who can provide direction on what would work best for you.
Start slowly. Rushing out to run a marathon is clearly not the way to get your exercise routine on the right track. Don’t over do. Be sure to warm up and stretch before each start. This means getting your blood pumping and improving your muscle flexibility in order to reduce the risk of injury.
Choose the right time. Consciously select a time when you have the most energy. Not only will this increase your motivation it will enhance your workout. If you don’t plan in advance, you just may find it too easy to come up with an excuse to avoid it all together. If you relegate it to the part of the day when your energy is at its lowest, you may start out as planned, but chances are you’ll cut your work out short, if you do it at all.
Do something you enjoy. Exercising is not intended to be torture. Make it fun. Select an activity that interests or excites you. Believe it or not, thirty minutes of walking a day not only lowers blood pressure and reduces heart disease, it can help with weight control. In addition, many experts agree that it is a cumulated benefit. This means that it can be done in three 10-minute walks – one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Walking not your thing? Try golfing, biking or even yoga. Do you have arthritis? You may do well with pool exercise. You can even include many common household or lifestyle activities such as gardening or raking the yard into your workout plan. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further from the store entrance so you have a longer walk or washing your own car instead of taking it to the car wash.
Mix it up. There are a couple of reasons why you should consider incorporating a full-range of activities into your weekly workout. First and foremost, variety is the spice of life. If you are like so many of us who become bored with the repetition, varying your activities can help to keep your interest from waning. Second, by incorporating a variety of activities you provide yourself with a more rounded program and minimize the possibility of hitting a workout plateau. Consider mixing strength-training exercises such as weightlifting or resistance training with a cardiovascular workout such as biking. Don’t forget about activities that improve your flexibility, balance, agility and coordination, too. These can boost overall performance and also play an important role in keeping you functioning independently as you age.
Get a partner. Exercising with someone else makes you accountable for each workout and can improve adherence to a program. A partner also can inspire you to push yourself a little bit harder when your energy level is flagging.
Breathe! No matter what exercise you choose, be sure to take full breaths, exhaling on exertion and inhaling as you release. It is important to deliver as much oxygen as possible to your working muscles. Rule of thumb is that you should be able to talk and exercise at the same time, otherwise you’re probably working too hard.
Listen to your body. If something really hurts, don’t do it. If you need rest, take a day off or engage in lighter exercise like walking. If you feel like you’re coasting during your workout, you probably need to kick things up a notch if you want to get greater results. And if you feel chest pain, dizziness or faintness, be sure to check with your physician immediately.
Remember: it is never too late too start an exercise program. Experts agree that exercise is not only important for maintaining your functionality as you age, it can enhance your mood, help manage stress, aid in sleep and help reduce your risk of many diseases.