As you age at home, it becomes incredibly important to stay active. It can be easy to be sedentary when youre aging at home, but staying active has many crucial health benefits that will help you age comfortably and healthfully.
Mentally, staying active will help you sleep better and reduces symptoms of depression by boosting your mood and self-confidence. Exercise is also good for your brain and helps prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. It can also slow the onset of brain disorders such as Alzheimers disease.
Physically, exercise can reduce the impact of illness and chronic disease, while enhancing mobility, flexibility, and balance (making it less likely that youll need to use a stair lift or power wheelchair). Physical activity lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Regular physical activity helps you maintain or lose weight, and it can also improve your immune function, blood pressure, bone density, and digestive functioning.
Before you begin a new physical activity routine, make sure you are cleared by your doctor, and ask if there are any exercises you should avoid. Start slow, but commit to an exercise schedule and stick to it. Most importantly, if you begin to encounter any problems or discomfort, like dizziness or shortness of breath, stop immediately and call a doctor.
Here are a few ways you can stay active while aging at home in order to live a healthier life:
- Aim for 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week, with each aerobic session lasting at least 10 minutes. Examples of moderate aerobic activity may be walking, swimming, cycling, or even chores such as raking leaves or sweeping the kitchen.
- Do strengthening exercises twice a week targeting your upper and lower body. If you want to, you can incorporate 1- or 2-pound weights (or even cans of food, if you dont have weights at home).
- To improve balance and reduce your risk of slipping or falling, practice balance exercises, yoga, and/or tai chi. This can be as simple as practicing standing on one foot.
- Join a group fitness class at your local gym or senior center. Attending these classes with friends will give you motivation to show up for the social aspect while also providing stress relief.
- Participate in water aerobics classes or swimming. Working out in the water is especially beneficial for seniors because its low-impact and reduces stress on the bodys joints.
If you have difficulty motivating yourself to be active, try doing things to make the activity more enjoyable. For example, listen to music while you exercise, or call a friend while going for a walk around the block. You could also watch a favorite TV show while using a cardio machine, or explore somewhere new while going for a walk or hike.
Any activity is better than none, and even a ten minute walk around the block is better than sitting on your couch. Staying active will allow you to age at home independently, stay healthy, and live a long and comfortable life.