Staying active as we age is one of the most important things we can do.
Exercise can reduce the risk for just about every disease out there and benefits people who already have these diseases.
Research has found that performing daily physical activity strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow, maintains and builds muscle mass, stimulates the bones, reduces body fat and is good for your brain!
In comparison, a sedentary lifestyle has been linked as a main risk factor for many health problems, which is why everybody — no matter your age — needs to exercise.
Getting active doesn’t need to be a workout in itself. Three key exercises to work into your daily routine are:
>> Strength training: You can increase your strength at any age, but first, you must stress the muscles beyond what they are used to. This can be done using your own body weight, rubber bands, free weights or machine weights.
My favorite strength exercise is a modified squat — stand up and sit down in a chair 10 times. When that becomes easy, do two sets!
>> Aerobic exercise: This can involve anything that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time. Walking is probably the easiest one for most people, but biking, swimming, jogging, hiking and tennis are all good options.
>> Balance training: Balance is a skill; you must practice it like any other skill to get better. The best way to test your balance is to stand on one foot for 20-30 seconds without touching anything. (Place a chair next to you for safety.) If you can’t do it, keep practicing.
>> A bonus exercise: Be sure to get your stretch on! Flexibility is important because as we get older, our muscles become shorter and lose their elasticity. Stretching can help improve range of motion of the joints we use everyday.
Most healthy adults can safely start a walking program and perform moderate exercise.
However, talk with your primary care physician if you have any questions about your health, especially if you have any injuries or chronic conditions.
Start slow, increase effort gradually and listen to your body. Stop if you feel sick, dizzy or acute pain.
Warm up and warm down, drink water and, above all, do something you enjoy.
Need help finding the perfect fit? Hawai‘i Pacific Health offers a wide array of classes for people of all ages and abilities.
To find a schedule of classes and one located near you, visit HawaiiPacificHealth.org.
Marcie Nowack is an exercise physiologist with the Hawai‘i Pacific Health Women’s Centers. Nowack teaches classes designed for seniors and those tailored for certain diseases such as osteoporosis (Osteo-cise) and breast cancer (ABC After Breast Cancer). She also leads the Brain and Balance classes that focus on coordination, agility, fall prevention and fun ways to challenge the brain.