Wellness Warriors—how have the last six months changed you? Have you slowed down, been under stress, maybe eating too much? Or have you taken advantage of life’s change of pace to do more things outside, to try new, healthy ways of cooking, or to decompress?
I spent the Summer swimming several times a week. Initially, I did it for stress relief and to get in some cardio. Then I started to see my body transform. So, I kept on swimming and swimming and swimming, and my body reacted in so many positive ways. My entire shape changed, and I feel great!!!
You know that I preach longevity, and I’ll be the first to reinforce that you have to practice what you preach. So, I spent the last six months making exercise a PRIORITY!
Now, we’re leaving Summer behind and heading into Fall—sweet treats, cooler weather, and some degree of sheltering in place. The danger of becoming sedentary, especially as we give in to indulgence, is real.
Every year gives us a new chance to be better than before. With our health, which has never been more critical to maintain, we basically have two choices:
- Get moving and fuel the body,
- Get sluggish, heavier, run-down, and more susceptible to illness.
So, if you’ve let lockdown slow you down, TODAY is your day to get moving. I’m a huge proponent of doing anything to keep your body moving. But if you can add exercise to your health routine, you’ll not only be healthier, you’ll feel better too. You can swim, walk, jog, lift weights, climb stairs, dance, cycle. There are so many options available, even during the upcoming new season. Let’s take a look at a few amazing exercise options.
Four Great Exercise Options
No matter your age, the best exercise for you is the one you like doing. After all, if you don’t enjoy your workout, will you really stick with it? You’ll also want to check in with your physician before stating on an exercise regimen. But with that said, here are what I feel are four excellent exercise options to help you feel good from your head to your toes.
Of course, I’ll start with the form of exercise that I spent the Summer enjoying. Swimming is an ideal workout for us senior Wellness Warriors because it presents little risk of injury and is low impact. Water exercises work out all the muscle groups in the body, giving you a complete workout. Whether you’re swimming laps or doing water aerobics, you’ll get a workout that’s good for your body while being gentle on it, too.
Here are just a few of the health benefits of swimming:
- It improves your heart health – Swimming makes your heart stronger, improves your endurance, lowers your blood pressure, and improves your circulation.
- It boosts your mental health – As I mentioned before, I started swimming as a form of stress relief, and I can attest to this point. Swimming is a great way to reduce your stress levels, increase brain function, and improve your mood.
- It’s gentle on your joints – Because swimming isn’t weight-bearing, it’s easy on the joints, especially for those who suffer from joint pain and discomfort. It’s a full-body workout that keeps the pressure off your hips, knees, and spine.
- It improves muscle tone – Swimming is an excellent form of resistance training and can help improve your muscle strength. You’ll also see long, lean muscle tone forming the more you do it! I know I did!
Experts report that walking could be the best exercise for seniors. It’s an effective way to reduce the risk of chronic conditions and improve your overall health. Some of the benefits of walking include:
- It improves your hearth health – Getting your heart rate up daily leads to a reduction in the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even coronary heart disease.
- It boosts your mental health – A daily walk can actually help you feel more positive about life. The endorphins released during physical activity create a sense of well-being, reduce anxiety, and boost your mood.
- It lowers your blood sugar – After eating, taking a 15-minute walk has been shown to reduce the after-eating spike in blood sugar some seniors can experience.
- It reduces pain – Walking even just three times a week for 20 minutes can help strengthen abdominal and back muscles to decrease chronic back pain. Studies have also shown that walking helps reduce some pain due to chronic conditions like arthritis.
T and I love to dance! Dancing is fun and can be done with your family at home or with your friends in a class or a club. (Nowadays, you can even take dance classes over Zoom!) And, of course, it has great health benefits. As you age, your body loses muscle mass, coordination, and balance, making you more likely to fall and injure yourself in the course of everyday activities. Dancing can help counteract this decline. Some of the benefits of dancing include:
- It improves strength – Dancing improves strength and muscle function in older adults, as well as increases balance and flexibility. It also leads to better stability and fewer injuries.
- It can improve your cardiovascular health – Not surprisingly, dancing can improve your cardiovascular health, which will decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
- It can improve your posture and motor skills – In one study, healthy older adults who participated in a six-week dance program showed improved posture, reaction times, and motor performance.
- It could improve your brain health – Some research has found that dancing increases activity in the brain, which helps you form new neural connections and to think with more speed and agility.
While there is some debate regarding the safety of cycling for seniors, there are many more statistics that show that senior bike-riding is not only safe but healthy. Here are a few of the benefits of cycling:
- It is a low-impact, low-stress exercise – When you cycle, you move in smooth motions that don’t put undue stress on your body. When you cycle, the circular movements that propel you forward don’t strain the body in any way. Meaning? You can cycle for years to come without harming your body.
- It can help you lose weight – Each time you hop on a bicycle—outdoors or stationary—you burn calories. The more comfortable you become riding, the longer you can ride and lose more weight. Combining cycling with another low impact exercise, like swimming, is a perfect way to stay in shape.
- It’s great for your heart – Riding a bicycle is a great way to increase your heart’s capacity. As you become a better cyclist, your heart becomes even stronger and reduces the odds that you will suffer a heart-related ailment.
- It increases your body strength – Muscular health is directly influenced by mitochondrial health, which is directly influenced by regular exercise such as cycling. The more you cycle, the healthier your mitochondria, the healthier your cells, and the stronger your muscles.
So, whether you choose one of these forms of exercise, or choose something else that you enjoy, keep your body moving every day, so you get stronger, leaner, more energized, and keep your immune system running at top speed.
Get moving, Wellness Warriors, and close 2020 with great health! Until next time, Live Well, Live Long!