Keep it low
It has always been important to exercise to maintain circulation and muscle strength, as well as more subtle abilities such as balance. And we all know that regular activity is a good thing, but once arthritis and a few aches and pains start to creep in, it can all sound too hard.
Fitness is no longer about having a six-pack or trim thighs; these days it’s about being fit enough to do everything else you want to do. Low impact is the way to go with regular, gentle activity. Anyone over 55 needs exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure that their system’s circulation is doing well,” says Andrew Simpson of My Health Team.
“I consult people well into their 80s and in some cases 90s. One of the trends that I see with the healthy people is they have a daily walking routine.” He recommends talking to a doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
Here’s Andrew’s Top 5 tips to keep it low and healthy.
Walking is one of the best low-impact endurance exercises. It takes little planning to get started and is easy enough on the joints. The key to a beneficial walking routine is the right pair of shoes and good stretching after the walk. While walking, focus on posture. Keep the back straight and shoulders rolled back. After your walk, do a few stretches to protect the muscles that you just worked and prevent injury – calves and hamstrings, along with ankle rolls.
While it may not seem low-impact, cycling is actually very easy on the joints since your body absorbs minimal shock from pedalling. Cycling can ease arthritis pain, helps with high blood pressure and improves mood. A recent study also found that it reduces the risk of heart attack. Ride a stationary bike at the gym or invest in a road bike to pedal around your neighbourhood.
No matter what your workout routine, adding some gentle stretches will improve flexibility and range of motion. The National Institute on Aging recommends regularly stretching your neck, shoulders, upper arms, upper body, chest, back, ankles, legs, hips and calves.
Water aerobics combines cardiovascular exercise with strength training for a low-impact, full-body workout. By exercising in water, you take advantage of the water’s resistance to strengthen your muscles as you move. This form of exercise has become the stereotypical senior workout, and with good reason.
When you picture a yoga class, you probably envision a room full of people contorted into impossible positions but you don’t have to make it intense. Yoga meets all categories of good exercise, combining endurance with stretches, strength and balance.