Your ability to age well is greatly influenced by the actions you take, including exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, keeping your brain fit and having an active social life. You’re likely taking the steps you need to maintain your physical and emotional health.
But did you know that there are exercises that can actually help you remain independent?
Adding the right movements to your health regimen may make all the difference for those who look toward aging-in-place and making the most out of their life.
Maintaining independence and freedom is always ranked near or at the top of the list of goals expressed by older adults. Being able to make your own choices has a big influence on your health and outlook on life.
In childhood or the teen years, we often fight for freedom. But as we continue through adulthood we become used to making our own decisions and choices – whether it’s having children, advancing our careers, purchasing a home or how we spend our free time.
Realizing that independence could be threatened is a fear for many older adults. The anxiety can reach out to several areas, including:
Exercises to remain independent
Physical activity can help you achieve the following goals to help keep you healthy, fit and independent:
When you grow older, your metabolism naturally slows down. You’ll gain weight if you continue to eat the same amount. And if your activity levels decrease, the gain could be even more significant.
Developing a regular exercise routine to remain independent also increases your metabolism and builds muscle mass to help burn more calories.
Try a cardio workout: brisk walking, running, bike riding or swimming. Add strengthening exercises: modified squats, planks or leg raises.
Mobility can be such a trigger for losing independence. You’ll want to make sure you keep moving, which helps stretch your muscles. Exercise can also help make you stronger and more flexible.
Try stretching exercises: 90/90 stretch, glute bridges to strengthen your leg muscles and the happy cat/sad cat which helps mobilize your spine. Learning diaphragmatic breathing also helps release tension in the upper back. Examples of these exercises and more can easily be found on-line or talk to your doctor.
Every second of the day an older adult falls. Although common, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Exercises to remain independent counter the loss of muscle mass and core strength as we grow older, which can cause our risk of falling to increase.
Look for exercises to build strength and balance: Sit-to-stand exercises build leg strength and try balancing on both feet and eventually only on one. If needed, use counters or mobility devices for support.
Exercising can help improve your immune system, leading to a lowered risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and certain cancers. It may even lower your risk of cognitive decline.
Exercise will also increase your blood circulation. And its anti-inflammatory effect on the body is a big bonus.
Aim for regular physical activity, at least 30 minutes for three days a week. This can include walking, biking, yoga or swimming.
Sleep is vital for your overall health. Exercises can help you fall asleep quicker and deeper, resulting in healing benefits and waking up refreshed.
Try aerobic or cardio exercises, including brisk walking, running, lap swimming or bike riding. Resistance exercises are also beneficial, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands. Yoga has also been shown to help improve sleep quality.
Even if you’re faced with the challenges of aging, knowing that you can contribute to the solution makes a big difference to your outlook. And an empowered life motivates you to stay positive and healthy. Exercise also increases your endorphin levels, which are natural mood improvers.
Try these exercises: aerobic exercise, such as walking, riding a bike or running, which can reduce your risk of depression or its symptoms. Strength training such as weightlifting is also beneficial.
Although it’s popular today for people to work out their brain with puzzles, games and learning new skills, physical exercise is still the best step you can take to improve your cognitive health.
It can help prevent or slow down memory loss, cognitive decline and possibly dementia. And the benefits of exercising extend to both your physical and cognitive wellbeing.
Try aerobic exercises as they promote cardiovascular health, improve the blood flow to the brain and lower your levels of stress hormones and inflammation.
We understand firsthand the benefits that exercise can provide in helping people maintain their independence. Remaining active is a vital part of aging well and we hope the above information is helpful for you to achieve your optimum health.
At Ingleside’s Westminster at Lake Ridge, we’ve designed our independent living community with a focus on physical activity and wellness.
Take a look at what our vibrant community has to offer:
Please visit our website for more information or call (703) 420-7105 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.