Exercise is beneficial for the body and for well-being. Whether you want to begin an exercise routine or try something new, where to start?
Think about what kind of exercise is interesting to you. Is it a fit with your lifestyle? Aspects to consider:
- Do you like to work with others or alone (at home or gym)
- Does the routine mesh with your schedule / lifestyle
- Is it suitable with your fitness level (not too easy; not too difficult)
- How much impact are you looking for (can your body handle high impact, or do you require lower impact exercises)?
Physical activity is advantageous, significantly improving one’s health, helps:
- Establish and maintain a healthy body weight
- Maintain muscle mass and good energy levels
- Reduce risk of chronic disease
- Improve mental function and mental health
- Sleep better.
To get started with an exercise routine it’s important to consider a health check-up first, especially if you are:
- not used to strenuous physical activities
- aged 45 and over.
The health check may identify any health issues or conditions that could potentially cause injury during exercise. Knowing these limitations, a safe and optimal exercise plan may be developed.
Next set goals: REALISTIC GOALS. Create a plan that is attainable for you. As your fitness level increases and you progress toward reaching your goal, add to it in increments: SUCCESS!!
Now, maintain your exercise routine on a scheduled basis: HABIT.
Types of Exercise to Consider:
Walking – is safe and produces dramatic results.
Start with walking in 10 to 15 minute increments. As strength and endurance increase, begin to walk further and faster. Get to the point of being able to walk for 30 to 60 minutes at a good pace.
Strength Training – muscle begins to atrophy after the age of 40. Strength (resistance) training will help to slow/stop this progression.
Start with lighter weights, that you can lift comfortably 12 to 15 times. Use proper form, doing each exercise correctly. When ready, increase the load to slightly heavier weight.
Try to maintain a weight training schedule of two or more times per week.
Balance Training – can help prevent falls, important for older adults. The movements are slow and deliberate. Many daily activities require good balance: walking and going up and down the stairs, standing up from a sitting position, bending over, etc.
Some simple balance exercises include:
- Stand on one leg and raise the other leg to the side or behind.
As balance improves try holding the positions for a longer amount of time.
Also try closing your eyes or moving your head in different directions.
- Heel to toe walking: walk in a steady, straight line by placing the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Repeat for 20 steps. To start, use a support if needed.
- Stand up from a sitting position without using your hands.
To start, use a support if needed.
Keep practicing until a support is no longer needed.
- Flexibility/Stretching: helps with muscle recovery, range of motion and injury prevention. It also works to improve posture and balance.
Warm up first for about 5 to 10 minutes with some dynamic stretching (high kicks, knee to chest movements, arm and leg swinging). This prepares the body for exercise.
Stretch slowly, doing so with fluid movements. Only go as far as is comfortable – no pain.
Start by holding the stretch for 7 to 10 seconds, then progress further as you become more comfortable. Yoga and Pilates are good flexibility exercise programs.
The above exercises can be done individually or may be combined. Most importantly, do what you like and have fun with it.
If you feel pain or discomfort while exercising, stop and rest before continuing. Do not rush your routines; take time to progress. This will help you to maintain your program.