Exercise: A key to healthy aging and staying independent – part 1

Exercise is an important tool to maintaining your independent functioning as you age. Learn how to add exercise to your day through some of your regular activities.

Aging can be a complicated process as we work to keep the body and mind functioning properly. Have you ever wondered what you can do to help prevent aches and pains as you age? Aside from proper nutrition, what other important things can we do to maintain individual functioning? Fitness is important for people of any age, including those who are moving into their later years.

The National Institute on Aging offers a formula for exercise through its Go4Life program. Even a small amount of regularly scheduled exercise will produce results in just a few weeks. Your body will respond and you will begin to feel stronger and more energetic. As you work your body you will find it easier to perform daily activities and you will be able to endure more for a longer period of time.

An easy way to incorporate more exercise into your day is to do your regular activities longer, faster or harder. If you are lifting a three pound bag of sugar with no problem, buy a five pound bag of sugar and lift it a few times a week until you get stronger. If you go to the grocery store, park further away from the door on a nice day. If you are already walking two days a week, add an extra day and make it three days a week.

Varying more than one type of exercise keeps your interest going. Think about activities you used to do when you were younger and consider adding them back into your life. Did you go bowling as part of a league? Find a friend and set a date to go bowling. It adds exercise and a social contact. Did you like to dance? Consider signing up for a dance class. Perhaps you like swimming – check your local YMCA for a water aerobics class (there are many water classes for seniors). If you are less mobile, consider a tai chi class or a beginning yoga class.

For more information on healthy aging topics and educational programs, visit the Michigan State University Extension website and read Part 2 of this article.

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