Fit, not Frail: Exercise as a Tonic for Aging
Did you know that every hour of every day, 330 Americans turn 60? When our bodies start to go snap, crackle, pop we might not feel very inspired to keep a fitness routine, but having one is possible and important as we age. My Grandpa is 87 and he swims regularly at the YMCA. Swimming, aerobics, strength training along with flexibility and balance exercises can enhance one's physical abilities into their 90s and beyond.
Strength training is key. Strength training is advocated by the National Institute on Aging, and the heart association, which recognize the value of keeping and maintaining muscle strength to reduce stress on joints, soft tissues and bones. Muscle strength will improve standing stability and reduce the risk of falls. Also strength training will make the demands of daily life easier, such as climbing stairs, rising from a chair, reaching into cabinets, and opening jars.
Strength training can be done in a gym on machines that each work a different part of the body: the hips, legs, arms, chest, back, shoulders and abdomen. Or if you prefer, it can be done at home with resistance bands, and hand-held barbells and dumbbells, or even body weight.
As you get older, it's a good idea to work with a professional trainer. Also, to stay motivated, joining a gym is helpful, as well as working out with friends or loved ones.
I really admire my Grandparents energy. They can still lift a sack of potatoes with ease and pace the stairs to the basement despite almost reaching their 90's. Investing a little time and care for your body goes a long way. By giving yourself just ten minutes a day of stretching your legs, arms, hips and shoulders or standing on one foot and then the other, you can really improve your balance and be more mobile as you age.