By Roseanna Mosiniak
As the mind and body age we commonly think it is time to slow down and do less. However, the opposite is true. It’s important to exercise the mind and body to maintain mental function, reduce the risk of disease, stay physically active and maintain flexibility and balance.
There are options for individuals of all health and fitness levels to begin or maintain an exercise regimen. If you don’t currently have a fitness plan, or begin to experience challenges with your current routine, it’s important to consult with your physician. Have a discussion about your goals and current challenges so you can work together to develop a plan that will work for your lifestyle.
There are four important focus areas for staying active as we age:
• Aerobic exercises are fundamental for a healthy heart. Try walking or biking with a friend, swimming, or low-impact group fitness classes that will elevate your heart rate but are easy on your joints.
• Strength training produces dramatic results but is also important to prevent muscle loss as we age. Lifting light weights can help to maintain strength in the arms, legs and core.
• Stretching and balance exercises can help relieve some symptoms of arthritis and prevent falls. Try a yoga class or tai chi. The classes provide added benefits of peace and relaxation to help manage stress.
• Stimulating the brain is important to help prevent the loss of mental function and some forms of dementia. Crossword puzzles, word games, Sudoku, conversations with friends and family, learning new skills and traveling are all ways to keep your mind active.
It’s important to set yourself up for success to maintain a high quality of life and to achieve measurable results with your fitness program.
• Make exercise a regular part of your day. You’ll be less likely to stop if it’s a part of your everyday routine, like brushing teeth. If you are interrupted for travel, illness or injury, you’ll find it easier to start up again when you’re ready.
• Stick with it. If you can maintain your exercise routine or physical activity for at least 6 months, it’s a good sign that you are on the way to making physical activity a regular habit.
• Make it fun. Exercise doesn’t have to be an exhausting, sweaty chore that is dreaded. Try a new sport, go dancing, or visit walking trails in the local park system. If you enjoy what you are doing, you’re more likely to look forward to your workout and will stick with it.
• Use the buddy system. Exercising with a friend helps you both be accountable and gives you someone with whom to try new things and laugh!
Roseanna Mosiniak is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Group Fitness Instructor at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, where she specializes in senior fitness. For more information, visit www.wildwoodathleticclub.org or call 419/539-0235.