My mother is truly an inspiration, especially when it comes to keeping active as she gets older. For as long as I can remember, she played in a tennis group once a week. When I was in high school, she and her friends would power walk every morning after dropping us off at the bus. In the past few years, she’s only cranked it up.
She now plays tennis four days a week, and even occasionally picks up a fifth day!
Being active has helped my mom be independent, strong and capable. She’s been known to rearrange the furniture in her house for family events all by herself. She never shies away from heavy lifting and labor, helping anyone who needs it. She even takes my nephew (now 15) and niece (now 11) for six weeks every summer. She bikes with them, swims and generally runs around and keeps up with them! I can see how her active life helps her in her everyday life.
Being active is important at any age, but especially as we get older. Staying active will not only help you maintain your independence, but will keep your heart and mind healthy. There’s strong evidence that proves that people who are more active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. If you don’t stay active, daily life can become harder and you may struggle with everyday activities.
Benefits of being active as you age:
- Increase Hearth Strength with Aerobics. You’ll have more energy to do the things you like to do. It can increase your quality of sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
- Strength Strain to Prevent Muscle Loss. It will help keep bones strong and protect your knees and other joints, too.
- Maintain Independence and Flexibility with Stretching. Daily tasks like tying your shoes or reaching a shelf will become easier. When you are flexible, you have a more natural walking pattern, which decreases your chance of falling. Most flexibility is lost through inactivity or lack of movement, not age.
- Balance Exercises Benefit Posture. You will improve coordination and also reduce your risk for falls by practicing balance exercises. A simple one is standing on one leg for 10 seconds (using a chair for support if needed).
The list of activities to choose from is endless. Yoga is a great way to work on posture, balance and flexibility. Weight training reduces muscle loss while strengthening your muscles and bones. Running, walking or biking keeps your heart healthy. It’s never too late to start getting active.
While some activity is better than none at all, the goal to get the maximum health benefit is to aim to for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, five days a week. At least two days a week your activity should include something that strengthens muscles and bones. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle as you age will keep you strong to accomplish daily tasks so you can remain independent. The most important thing is to find something you like, so being active is just a part of your life.
This article also appears in the October 2014 issue of Berks County Living