Choosing the Best Exercise
You’ve probably read in many magazines or seen on TV shows about how important exercise is. No doubt about that. No one can argue the power of exercise when it comes to maintaining your health. But the real question here is – what exercise fits you best?
Have you ever tried out a certain exercise routine like running, boxing, or aerobics for instance, and you get so excited doing it that you keep up with your momentum for a couple days, weeks, or months until your appetite for it eventually wanes and you find yourself stuck in your old habits again?
That’s what many of us do. You probably got tired of doing it or that thing you were so excited about no longer excites you. Why is that? Probably because you still haven’t found the one exercise that perfectly matches you.
Not all exercises are the same as much as not all people have the same fitness levels or interests. Therefore, it is important that you choose an exercise that perfectly fits your activity level, your interest, your goals, and your lifestyle. This way, you would be putting more commitment into your exercise program and eventually achieve your fitness goals but more importantly, stay fit and healthy.
Here are five popular exercise options that seniors may incorporate into their daily fitness programs:
If you want a more relaxed kind of exercise where you won’t have to be panting and gasping for air while exercising then yoga might be the best fit for you.
Yoga involves performing a series of poses that work to stretch your muscles thus enhancing your strength and flexibility. Yoga also incorporates specific breathing techniques that make you feel more relaxed after doing the exercise rather than your muscles feeling tensed.
Moreover, one study suggested that people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after 8 weeks of doing yoga. Additionally, yoga improves your balance thus it helps reduce the risk of falls. It also enhances your posture as most yoga poses involve core muscle strengthening.
Moreover, yoga is a passive type of meditation so it helps you bring awareness to your breathing and your body movements. As a result, you feel less stressed, more calm, and more relaxed afterward.
2. Water exercise
Water exercise either in the form of aqua aerobics or swimming is an excellent physical activity you may include in your fitness program. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, doing water exercise for around two and half hours a week may help reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Like yoga, water exercises are low impact activities, which means that the movements involved have less or no direct force on the body thus only little stress is placed on the body and the risk of injury is reduced.
Older adults who are having knee or hip problems can benefit greatly from aqua aerobics since it’s easy on the joints. Moreover, it also helps increase your muscle strength and endurance due to water resistance. In one study led by Nobuo Takeshima, Ph.D., of Nagoya City University in Japan, they found that older women who took part in regular water exercise for more than 12 weeks experienced increased strength, agility, and flexibility as well as improved total cholesterol levels.
3. Brisk walking or jogging
Regular brisk walking is a very good cardiovascular exercise. That said, it helps your heart give a good pump thus maintaining a healthy heart and increasing your endurance. It helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It also helps lower bad cholesterol levels while heightening good cholesterol levels in your blood. Additionally, regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of developing other diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Another benefit from walking or jogging regularly is weight management. Not only are calories burned during the activity but also even at rest. Walking helps increase your muscle mass so the more muscles you build, the faster the metabolism, and the more calories you burn. Aside from muscle strength, walking also fosters increased bone strength thus reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis and arthritis.
Improved brain function is also a benefit of regular walking. It has been found that walking 6 miles or more every week can ward off shrinking of your brain so your memory is improved while reducing the risk of dementia.
If you’re only starting out, make sure to only walk around 1-2 miles to somehow get your body at ease with such activity. Then you may increase your pace or the distance gradually over a period of time. Moreover, it is recommended to do your walking out in the daylight so the sun’s rays can excite your body’s Vitamin D which is essential in bone health and boosting immunity.
Zumba is another aerobic option that’s a super fun way to sweat off some calories. Because it’s just like dancing to lively music, Zumba doesn’t feel like you’re really strictly exercising. Joining a Zumba class in your local area not only gets you moving on your feet, you also get the chance to socialize with other people who have the same fitness goals as you are.
Regularly engaging in Zumba helps you improve your range of motion, coordination, posture, and balance. People suffering from arthritis may benefit from Zumba as well. Since it is an aerobic exercise, Zumba is designed to boost your endurance thus making it a good exercise for your heart. Improved brain function is also achieved because as your blood flow increases as you’re dancing, more oxygen reaches your brain; hence, it improves your concentration, memory, and attention skills.
Other benefits of Zumba include increased muscle strength and bone density, weight loss and weight management, and reduced stress.
5. Weight lifting
Even seniors can benefit from lifting weights, says the American College of Sports Medicine, which now recommends weight training for older adults (50 and above). Even 80-97 year-old adults who engaged in weight training have marked improvement in their muscle strength, range of motion, and balance. Moreover, a Tufts University study showed that weight training helps increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures among older women (aged 50 to 70). Another study conducted in New Zealand illustrated that women aged 80 and above who engaged in strength training showed a reduction of falls by 40%.
It has also been shown that weightlifting is a good activity for people with arthritis. A 16-week program demonstrated that respondents who underwent weight training showed decreased arthritic pain by 43% while marking an increase in their overall physical performance and muscle strength. Other symptoms were reduced and disability was also decreased.
If weight loss is crucial to you then weight training is an excellent option. It helps increase your body’s metabolic rate so even when you’re done lifting weights, your body still continues to burn calories even at rest for up to two days. Moreover, weight training has been shown to relieve stress and help improve the quality of sleep.
Exercise is indeed a vital part of maintaining one’s health. However, consistency is key. Therefore, you have to find the one or two exercises that fit you best and which you think you can incorporate into your regular fitness routine over a long period of time.
What exercise fits you best? What benefits have you gained from it? Share your stories with us!