Healthy Exercises to Stay Fit
As you cycle out of the workforce and into your golden years, you would be an odd duck if you didn’t think about what it takes to live the best you can for as long as possible. You’ve already done years worth of retirement planning to make sure you are healthy financially, but are you going to exercise to be fit physically? The great thing, after years of having a large chunk of your time occupied by a company, is the freedom in retirement allows you to develop new habits that will ensure you stay active. If you commit to getting moving, you will certainly reap the benefits for the rest of your life – but what should you do? Should our workouts be geared differently as we age?
The short answer is “No,” with a couple of caveats. In general, you want your exercise regime to test you in four ways:
Everyone knows the value of keeping your heart in tip-top shape. Over the last few years, we have come to understand how much the ticker works on a daily basis to an even greater extent and the role of exercise continues to show up as a prime indicator of your quality of life. That said, you don’t have to sign up for a marathon tomorrow. Going for a brisk walk for a half-hour – break a light sweat – each day can do wonders for those who are just beginning. What is important is the development of a routine you enjoy (so you keep doing it) that is effective (so you reap the benefits). If you decide to work up to running 26.2 miles, that’s fantastic!
Let’s face it, you probably aren’t going to be entering any powerlifting competitions, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up lifting weights! Two major problems for retirees are muscle wasting and bone loss – issues resistance training counteracts with the help of a balanced diet. Though you might be tempted to use the cable-and-pulley machines, consider beginning with lightweight dumbbells and doing traditional exercises. The added component of working directly against gravity (as opposed to only in the direction the machine moves) forces your muscles and bones to adapt to stresses that are more natural, meaning the carryover effect in your daily routine will be more noticeable.
One of the underreported keys to stay free of pain is also one of its simplest: the ability to move as much as you can. Every joint in your body, from your toes to your jaw, has a range of motion that guides where and how far it can go. When you push beyond those limits, you end up with strained muscles – or worse. Back pain, for instance, is frequently the result of an inability to bend appropriately in each direction. It doesn’t have to be a lot, either: even a basic stretching plan that covers all your major muscle groups performed after your workout can be a big help. If you feel like going a little further (literally), join a yoga class.
Nobody wants to be the woman from the old commercial yelling “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” The fact of the matter is, you are going to become a bit unsteady as you age, but that can be slowed by engaging in activities that ask you to make coordinated movements – whether you are spinning through a dance class or doing some lunges with a slight twist is up to you. Either way, the complex mechanisms in your ear and brain that govern your ability to stay upright will have to work and – just like your muscles – get much stronger, making you less likely to lose your balance.