No matter the age, people stand to benefit from being physically active. And the earlier you can start making a commitment to fight off the influence of modern sedentary lifestyles, the better.
Yet many people find it hard to get into the groove of exercising. They struggle with consistency. And those difficulties only increase as you grow old. By the time you’re in your senior years, if you still haven’t made a habit of physical exercise, the challenge can be formidable.
You might not feel like you have what it takes to increase your level of activity on a daily basis. Or that the potential benefits are no longer worth the effort. But here’s why that mindset needs to change, and how you can do it.
Better late than never
As years pass, our bodies inevitably decline. Even top athletes across sports tend to retire in their 30s; no one is immune to the effects of time. But being in good condition from an early age helps offset this deterioration. And if you get off to a late start, you won’t be able to capitalize on those benefits.
However, you don’t have to reach a high level of physical performance in order to witness significant improvements in your later years. Sedentary living results in muscles becoming diminished, joints stiffening, bones turning brittle, and the heart and lungs losing their power; exercise combats those effects.
By increasing your level of activity, you will be doing enough to stay relatively limber and strong. It might easily prove to be the difference between feeling exhausted after routine movements and having the energy to carry on with your day. It prevents injuries, lets you avoid common mobility restrictions, and allows you to continue enjoying a high quality of life in your final chapter.
Proceed with caution
Clearly, it’s better to start exercising later in life than not at all. But you have to be very careful as you go along. Even younger individuals risk fatigue and injury if they attempt a challenging exercise program when coming from scratch. For seniors, the curve for tolerance must follow an even more gradual incline.
Taking it easy begins with an awareness of your current capabilities. And if you’ve settled into sedentary patterns over the years, you probably aren’t highly attuned to your own body. Consulting with your doctor is always a good idea. They understand the big picture of your overall health and history, and can help devise an effective program of activity for you.
You’ll probably want to limit yourself to low-risk, low-impact exercises even as you become more comfortable. Yoga, swimming, and walking are all safe activities that improve your fitness without the strain of running, weightlifting, or the like. Along the way, learn to listen to your body and avoid over-exerting yourself.
Make change stick
Older people can learn new things all the time. Previous generations have grown increasingly comfortable using devices and social media. You can definitely learn (or rediscover) new ways to move your body and avoid getting injured.
But there’s some truth to the saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It means that you’ll encounter resistance whenever you try to do something different. This isn’t just physical stiffness; it also involves being set in your routines and unwilling to change.
Keep looking for ways to make exercise something you enjoy. You can try to elevate walking, for instance, by making it a social thing, getting to know your neighborhood on foot, and talking to more people. Try to stack exercise onto your existing routines and activities; that will help to cement it as a habit.
Cover all bases
Youth affords us a certain margin for error when it comes to health. Not only can we sometimes get away with exercising too hard, but we can also fall short in our eating and sleep habits on occasion.
With age, that margin vanishes. It’s not enough to proceed with caution as you work out. You also have to pay attention to nutrition and recovery. Take the time to warm up properly before exercise. Head over to the infinity massage chairs, and reward yourself for an active day with some pampering.
Get adequate rest and keep regular sleeping hours. Make sure you’re eating well; talk to your doctor about any adjustments to your diet if you experience sudden weight gain or loss.
Remember, you’re not aiming for personal records, muscle tone, or any other external forms of validation. You simply need to improve your fitness and develop sustainable, healthy habits in your golden years.