George Burns (who lived to be 100) used to say, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!" It's true that some individuals are blessed with good genes, and no matter how many unhealthy lifestyle habits they have, they're going to live into old age. But for the rest of us who might be concerned with quality of life as we age, exercise is one of the keys. Is it ever too late to start? Research proves it's not. In this article, I'll discuss the benefits of exercising into old age and then give you some tips on how to get started no matter how old you are.
If you're a senior, perhaps one of the best exercise recommendations for you to take to heart is to make sure you're incorporating resistance exercises to strengthen your muscles. This will help you maintain healthy bone mass and prevent age-related muscle loss. Strength training will also increase your muscle elasticity and strengthen your connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments, which, from a biomechanical perspective, help hold your body in the upright position.
Stability is the newest class designed to help you become stronger and improve balance. The movements taught in class focus on specific exercises to improve strength and power around the ankle, knee and hip joints, while improving your reaction time. This class is designed for fall prevention and is suitable for nearly every fitness level. It can be adapted depending on the skill of individual participants. A chair may be used for balance and support....
Pushups: This exercise works the same muscles as the chest press, but it also stretches them while training the core muscles to stabilize your torso and protect your lower back. Not many older people can do traditional pushups, with your hands and feet on the floor. Fortunately, you can make it easier without losing any benefits by elevating your hands on a bench or step, a kitchen counter, or even a wall. Check out the elevated pushup in the video below.
I don't think anyone can argue with the idea that exercise is good for you, no matter what your age, and importantly, that it's never too late to start. I started this article with a quote and would like to finish with one as well. It's by Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan was a cardiologist, who, in the 1970s, at the age of 45, decided to turn around his health and his life. He caught the running bug and started to train, compete, and run marathons. He quickly became an expert on the subject and started writing weekly fitness columns in local newspapers. He was medical editor for Runner's World magazine for 25 years; he counseled his patients on the virtues of exercise; and he lectured internationally. He wrote eight books about running, fitness, and health, and he played a key role in promoting the running boom of the 1970s. He was philosophical about winning, losing, suffering, meditation, training, and working through pain, and he would quote the likes of William James for inspiration. In 1986, Dr. Sheehan was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to his bones by the time he was diagnosed. He hung on courageously for seven more years, running and competing up until the end of his life. He died in 1993, just four days short of his 75th birthday. Dr. Sheehan had the following to say about his experience with running and with life. "No matter how old I get, the race remains one of life's most rewarding experiences. My times become slower and slower, but the experience of the race is unchanged: each race a drama, each race a challenge, each race stretching me in one way or another, and each race telling me more about myself and others."
Marching: Hold on to a sturdy chair for balance, and lift your right knee up toward your chest, then lower to starting positions. The left knee can be bent slightly. Repeat 10-15 times with the right leg, and then do the left leg. You can progress to touching the chair with one finger for balance, then eventually without holding onto any support at all, and finally with your eyes closed. You can also try alternating the marching between left and right leg instead of one set with one leg.
Dr. Edward W. Gregg of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his colleagues at medical centers throughout the United States studied the women for an average of 7.6 years and found that higher levels of leisure time, sport activity, and heavy household chores and fewer hours of sitting daily were associated with a significantly reduced risk of broken (fractured) hip bones.
Remember, you are never too old to start exercising, and strength training in particular only becomes more important with age. My mom is an excellent example of this. She didn't take up strength training until the age of 74! Now, several years later, she's a testament to the fact that you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity, even if you get a late start.
If you have a specific skill or knowledge set that you would enjoy sharing with others, volunteer to teach a class on it! Do some research and check if you are eligible to teach, if not, tackle the requirements. Yoga, Zumba, cycling, boxing, cooking, sewing, baking, and dance classes are just a few that require minimal (if any) pre-requisites to become an instructor.