As we enter the new decade a focus on some basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle can assist us to obtain and maintain an improved quality of life.
Lifestyle choices you make today can lead to a healthier future. Learn how eating a healthy diet and exercising can help control or delay age-related health problems. By following some everyday fitness ideas we can improve our quality of life through promoting a more health-enhancing lifestyle.
Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. These activities help keep you healthy, improve your fitness, and help you do the tasks you need to do every day. Endurance exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. They also delay or prevent many diseases that are common in older adults such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Try to build up to at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate endurance activity a week. Being active at least 3 days a week is best. Remember, these are goals. Some people will be able to do more. It’s important to set realistic goals based on your own health and abilities.
When you’re ready to do more, build up the amount of time you spend doing endurance activities first, then build up the difficulty of your activities. For example, gradually increase your time to 30 minutes over several days to weeks by walking longer distances. Then walk more briskly or up steeper hills.
Follow some safety tips which include:
• Do a little light activity to warm up and cool down before and after your endurance activities
• Be sure to drink plenty of liquids when doing any activity that makes you sweat
• Dress in layers when exercising outdoors so you can add or remove clothes if you get cold or hot
To strengthen your muscles, you need to lift or push weight. Stronger muscles can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, and carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.
Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week for 30-minute sessions each, but don’t exercise the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row.
Gradually increase the amount of weight you use to build strength. Start out with a weight you can lift only 8 times. Use that weight until you can lift it easily 10 to 15 times. When you can do 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions easily, add more weight so that, again, you can lift it only 8 times. Repeat until you reach your goal.
Some safety-related tips to consider include the following:
• Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise, especially if you’ve had hip or back surgery
• Don’t hold your breath during strength exercise as holding your breath while straining can cause changes in blood pressure
• Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth; breathe out as you lift or push, and breathe in as you relax
• To prevent injury, don’t jerk or thrust weights, but use smooth, steady movement
Every year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. Balance exercises can help prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling.
You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like. Also try lower-body strength exercises because they can help improve your balance. Do the lower-body strength exercises 2 or more days a week but not on any 2 days in a row.
Challenge yourself as you progress. Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. When you are able, try holding on to the chair with only one hand. With time, hold on with only one finger, then with no hands at all. If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the exercise with your eyes closed.
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