The fastest growing segment of our population is adults 60 years of age and older. Healthy aging is achievable with sound planning, diet and exercise. Scientific studies show that exercise is safe for all age groups, and that staying fit is especially important for older adults. Exercise slows the aging process, promotes independence and delays many disabilities.
Four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent are balance, strength, flexibility and endurance. Each year, 1 in 3 older adults will fall, and over 300,000 people are admitted to hospitals for fractured hips. Balance exercises are vital in the prevention of falls because they build leg and core muscle strength, and help improve flexibility in the hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back. Strengthening exercises build muscles as well, plus they help increase metabolism, give us more freedom of movement, and keep blood sugars and weight in check. Stretching also reduces the risk of falling, helps improve posture, and increases blood flow and flexibility. Endurance exercises are any activity which increases one’s heart rate and breathing for a period of time, and may include walking briskly, swimming, bicycling and gardening.
Remember to check with your doctor before doing any exercise program, drink plenty of water, always warm up, don’t overdo, stretch and have fun!