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Getting Fit For Life
Source: The Care Guide
You don’t need to buy special clothes or
belong to a gym to become more active. Physical activity can and should
be part of your everyday life. Find things you like to do. Go for brisk
walks. Ride a bike. Dance. Work around the house. Garden. Climb stairs.
Swim. Rake leaves. Try different kinds of activities that keep you
moving. Look for new ways to build physical activity into your daily
- Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity that
makes you breathe hard on most or all days of the week. That’s called
an endurance activity because it builds your energy or “staying power.”
You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes at
a time is fine. Just make sure you are active for a total of 30 minutes
How hard do you need to push yourself? If you can
talk without any trouble at all, you are not working hard enough. If
you can’t talk at all, it’s too hard.
- Keep using your
muscles. Strength exercises build muscles. When you have strong
muscles, you can get up from a chair by yourself, you can lift your
grandchildren, and you can walk through the park.
your muscles in shape helps prevent falls that cause problems like
broken hips. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles
- Do things to help your balance. Try
standing on one foot, then the other. If you can, don’t hold on to
anything for support. Get up from a chair without using your hands or
arms. Every now and then walk heel-to-toe. When you walk this way, the
toes of the foot in back should almost touch the heel of the foot in
- Stretch. Stretching can help you be more
flexible. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to reach down
to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back the car out
of your driveway. Stretch when your muscles are warmed up. Don’t
stretch so far that it hurts.
Who Should Exercise?
anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. You can
still exercise even if you have a long-term condition like heart
disease or diabetes. In fact, physical activity may help. For most
older adults, brisk walking, riding a bike, swimming, weight lifting,
and gardening, are safe, especially if you build up slowly. But, check
with your doctor if you are over 50 and you aren’t used to energetic
activity. You also should check with your doctor if you have:
- a chronic disease, such as diabetes or heart disease
- any new symptom you haven’t discussed with your doctor
dizziness or shortness of breath
- chest pain or the feeling that your heart is skipping, racing, or fluttering
- blood clots
- an infection or fever
- unplanned weight loss
- foot or ankle sores that won’t heal
- joint swelling
- a bleeding or detached retina, eye surgery, or laser treatment
- a hernia
- had hip surgery
Here are some things you can do to make sure you are exercising safely:
slowly, especially if you haven’t been active for a long time. Little
by little build up your activities and how hard you work at them.
hold your breath during strength exercises. That could cause changes in
your blood pressure. It may seem strange at first, but the rule is to
breathe out as you lift something; breathe in as you relax.
- Use safety equipment. For example, wear a helmet for bike riding or the right shoes for walking or jogging.
your doctor has asked you to limit fluids, be sure to drink plenty when
you are doing activities. Many older adults don’t feel thirsty even if
their body needs fluids.
- Always bend forward from the hips,
not the waist. If you keep your back straight, you’re probably bending
the right way. If your back “humps,” that’s probably wrong.
- Warm up your muscles before you stretch. Try walking and light arm pumping first.
should not hurt or make you feel really tired. You might feel some
soreness, a little discomfort, or a bit weary, but you should not feel
pain. In fact, in many ways, being active will probably make you feel
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