Appropriate exercise for people of all ages

Regardless of age, finding ways to exercise regularly can be key to maintaining physical and mental strength.

There is an old adage: use it or lose it. If we don’t use our body by being active we will begin to lose strength and flexibility. As we age, a common problem is we do not use our bodies as much as we used to. We aren’t as active and we don’t exercise as much. When we are cold or tired, we tense our muscles and this can lead to pain and stiffness. As a consequence, we become less flexible. It is a viscous cycle because the less flexible we are, the more our muscles begin to shorten, resulting in less flexibility.

It may be time to push yourself a little harder and find new ways to add exercise to your daily life. In the last few years, we have learned more about older adults and their need to exercise. Regardless of health and physical abilities, we gain a healthier body and mind by staying physically active. Even those of us that have a difficult time standing or walking, flexible exercise will benefit us.

We need to exercise to:

  • Loosen tight muscles and joints
  • Increase of circulation to muscles and joints
  • Reduce stiffness so we can get going quicker, especially in the mornings
  • Improve posture
  • Improve balance
  • Reduce feelings of depression
  • Prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease, breast and colon cancer as well as osteoporosis

Always consult your physician before exercising. Go4Life is an accredited exercise program for adults though the National Institute of Aging. The program offers exercises that are safe to do. You can use the support of a chair, table or counter. Many of the exercises you may sit down as you exercise. The long term goal is to be able to do an exercise routine to a full range of motion.

Many adults will ask what kinds of exercise and physical activity improves health? Anytime you are moving or stretching you are receiving the benefits from exercise. Even gardening and housework will help with flexibility. Just be positive, don’t overdo and enjoy what you are doing

For more tips from Michigan State University Extension, visit the health and living with chronic disease page.

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