As we age, it is important to stay active, which means staying fit through regular exercise.
There are a host of benefits associated with exercise. Apart from aiding in our physical well-being, regular activity also purports to keep us sharp and mentally focused.
Leigh Anne Hall, a Morris Hospital wellness specialist, told The Joliet Herald News:
Healthy aging means you can still feel good and get around and do the things you love as you age. […] To do that, it’s important to stay healthy and exercise. The more active you are, the better you will feel.
I vowed to keep myself in good shape and eat healthy after a heart attack three years ago. Working out is the healthiest thing I can do. I do it for my wife and family.
Despite our best effort to remain active, bodies do become less cooperative with time. Aging bodies lose muscle tone and flexibility, and seniors also start noticing slower reflexes and weaker bones, among other physical challenges. Still, it’s important to respect these changes by modifying a workout routine to accommodate them.
Mary Shirmang, who started taking fitness classes at the Schaumburg Park District in 1988, shifted her workouts from land-based fitness classes about four years ago. She makes it a priority to take low-impact water aerobics four times each week.
“I never miss my aqua fitness classes,” she says. “If I didn’t take them, I would probably stiffen up like a board. The water aerobics keep me flexible and able to garden.”
The Centers for Disease Control says adults need a minimum of:
- Two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
- Or, one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
- Or, an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
Regular workouts as part of a gym or class have an added benefit for seniors, says Hall:
It gives them a place to go and a place to belong. Sometimes after our classes, they go as a group and have coffee. They become friends. When someone’s been gone a couple of days, they call each other to see if everything’s OK… The social aspect of it is really important.