Staying fit for life has many benefits

Remaining active throughout lifespan can improve quality of life and help prevent disease.

Well-seasoned people that exercise are generally living proof that physical activity is good for you, no matter how old you are. 

Staying active can help an individual in many ways:

  • Stay independent by improving strength, mobility and balance.
  • Delay or even prevent diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.
  • Provide more energy to do things.
  • Help improve disposition and reduce depression.

People can become more active without joining a gym. Many communities have a center or school that is open during certain times of the day to allow visitors to go for walks inside and increase their activity level. Work around the house, such as yard work, dusting and vacuuming, are also great forms of exercise. Stretching during these activities will help keep you flexible. Do you like to dance? Play music and clean and dance at the same time. 

Different types of activities have different benefits:

  • Endurance: These are activities that cause you to breathe hard, such as walking fast in place. Endurance activities build energy and “Staying Power”. Just a few minutes of this type of activity each day will help increase endurance.
  • Strength: It is very important to continue to use your muscles. When you have strong muscles you can bend down or get up from a chair or bed. You will be able to move and give hugs to those you love. Keeping your muscles in shape will improve stability and help prevent injuries from falling. 
  • Balance: Everyone has to work on their balance.Try standing on one foot. If you are unsteady, always use a counter for support. Try getting up from a chair without using the arms. Practice walking heel to toe. These are all very good ways to improve your balance.
  • Flexibility: Stretching can improve your ability to move more freely. This will make it easier to tie shoes or look over your shoulder from your car. Don’t stretch until your muscles are warmed-up, such as after a shower or when you don’t feel chilled.

Physical exercise can help lessen chronic pain and control diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. No matter what your age, Michigan State University Extension encourages everyone to exercise, just make sure you discuss your workout plan with your health care provider before beginning.

For more information on the value and safety of exercise visit the National Institute on Aging and Go4Life.

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