In order to fulfill a health and wellness credit required by my University, I enrolled in a fitness walking class this semester. I didn’t expect to get much out of the class, and I wrote it off as just another easy A and well-deserved break from my hectic schedule.
As the semester is coming to a close, I am beginning to realize that the class was actually so much more valuable than I thought. Between weekly walks around campus and lectures a few times a month, I started to gain a whole new understanding of fitness and what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.
I always thought that in order to be fit I needed to go to the gym five times a week, complete insane workouts, and eat a strict diet of protein and vegetables. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, I am hear to tell you that all of that is completely untrue. Physical fitness can be as simple as walking around your neighborhood once a week or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
This course also taught me that our fitness needs and abilities change over time. I can’t even do exercises I used to be able to do when I was a high school athlete! But, these changes are natural and as long as we recognize what our bodies need, physical fitness will follow.
While it is important to stay active throughout your life, it is never too late to develop a new exercise routine to improve your cardiorespiratory system, build muscles, and strengthen your bones. In fact, studies have shown that exercise can actually prevent alzheimer’s.
When you approach your fifties, you should really be focusing on strengthening your muscles, especially in your lower body. This is because people tend to lose those muscles faster than their upper body muscles.
However, this does not mean that you should ignore your upper body. It is very important to maintain a regimen that works your entire body!
Exercises can be done using free weights, machines, or your own body weight. I recommend those with osteoporosis should only do exercises with their body weight because of the weakness of their bones. This is a lesson I learned from my fitness walking professor who is also a personal trainer.
Some easy exercises you can do almost anywhere are squats, bicep curls, rows, and pushups!
Sixties and Seventies
When your sixties and seventies roll around, you will definitely want to focus on improving your cardiorespiratory system. You may notice that you might not be able to do certain strenuous exercises anymore. But there are more ways to stay fit than just strength training.
Walking is an easy way to boost your fitness level and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try to walk just a few times a week. You can head to a nearby park, a local track, or stay in your neighborhood. Be sure to vary the terrain and your pace for the best workout possible.
It doesn’t necessarily matter how far you walk just as long as you get outside and get your heart rate pumping. I also suggest investing in a heart rate monitor. Your heart rate is a simple, easy indicator of your overall health and can help you track improvements as you continue to walk more!
In your eighties and beyond, continue to walk as much as you can. You can also look into other ways to improve your cardiorespiratory system such as water aerobics.
You should also spend some time focusing on your balance. Try standing on one foot for 30 seconds each day without holding onto anything for support. If you need to hold onto a table or a chair, go ahead. But, you should continue to repeat this exercise each day to improve your balance. It is easy and can be done anywhere – no excuses!
As always, don’t let your age define what you can and cannot do. Age is but a number but your body is the master. Listen to what your body needs, assess what you can do, and go from there.
Are you looking for specific exercise to fit your fitness goals and abilities? Ask a pup for help! Maybe I’ll even recruit my fitness professor, too!
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