Getting Fit For Life
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m too old-I might hurt myself.”
“I’d be too embarrassed at a gym with all those fit young people around.”
Sound familiar? Maybe one of these is the reason you aren’t physically active or exercising. But, in fact, scientists now know that it’s usually more dangerous to not exercise, no matter how old you are. And you don’t need to buy fancy clothes or belong to a gym to become more active.
Most older people don’t get enough physical activity. Here are some reasons why they should:
- Lack of physical activity and not eating the right foods, taken together, are the second greatest underlying cause of death in the United States. (Smoking is the #1 cause.)
- Exercise can help older people feel better and enjoy life more. No one is too old or too out of shape to be more active.
- Regular exercise can prevent or delay some diseases like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. It can also perk up your mood and help depression, too.
- Being active can help older people to stay independent and able to keep doing things like getting around or dressing themselves.
So, make physical activity a part of your everyday life. Find things you enjoy. Go for brisk walks. Ride a bike. Dance. Work around the house and in the yard. Take care of your garden. Climb stairs. Rake leaves. Do a mix of things that keep you moving and active.
Four Types of Exercise
There are four types of exercises you need to do to have the right mixture of physical activities.
One-Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe harder on most or all days of the week. That’s called “endurance activity,” because it builds your energy or “staying power.” You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes of endurance activity at a time is fine. Just make sure those 10-minute sessions add up to a total of 30 minutes most days.
How hard do you need to push yourself? One doctor describes the right level of effort this way: If you can talk without any trouble at all, you’re not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, it’s too hard.
Two-Keep using your muscles. When muscles aren’t used, they waste away at any age.
How important is it to have “enough” muscle? Very! When you have enough muscle, you can get up from a chair by yourself. When you don’t-you have to wait for someone to help you. When you have enough muscle, you can walk through the park with your grandchildren. When you don’t-you have to stay home.
That’s true for younger adults as well as for people age 90 and older.