Looking for that extra encouragement to help you or your loved one stay active in retirement? Regular fitness, even as little as 30 minutes a day, plays an important role in your health – not only helping your hearts, lungs, bones and muscles stay strong, but combating heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, even Alzheimer’s and dementia. Exercise is even more important as you age, but finding the energy and motivation to tackle routine fitness might escape you. Don’t miss these 4 creative tips for finding the incentive to get going.
Dogs: That’s right – the perfect canine companion can also serve as just the motivation you need to get outside and stay active. The best dogs for seniors offer company, security, and a good reason to go outdoors for a walk. Just like humans, dogs require physical activity to keep excess weight off, build muscle mass, and stimulate brain function – experts recommend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise a day for dogs depending on size and breed.
What are some fun exercises to do with your dog outside of walking them regularly? Jogging, throwing frisbee or playing catch, going to the dog park, backpacking, and hiking are all great places to start. If you don’t own your own furry friend, consider fostering one for a local animal shelter, or offering to pet sit for a friend or neighbor.
Technology: Looking to start a new exercise routine but not sure where to start? Technology can be a key instrument in connecting you with fitness ideas and resources. Search Youtube.com to find helpful, instructional beginners videos on everything from gentle yoga to light weightlifting and chair aerobics. Or use the web to find a gym, senior center, or YMCA near you that offers senior fitness classes like water aerobics or Zumba which you can sign up for.
Technological apps (like MyFitnessPal) that you can download to your smartphone or other mobile device, and wearable fitness devices (like FitBit), can help you track calories burned, log your food intake, measure steps taken, heart rate, and more. Portable music players, podcasts and audiobooks can also provide audible entertainment while you take your daily walk or mow the lawn for example.
Good Shoes: Regular exercise in retirement can seem daunting, especially if you are under the belief that physical fitness can increase your risk for a fall or injury. The benefits of exercising far outweigh those risks, and in some respects help prevent them. A good pair of shoes can energize your workouts helping you strengthen your balance, flexibility and coordination – all things which promote continued mobility as you age, and help prevent falls.
A good pair of shoes to exercise in should provide stability for your foot and ankle, as well as arch support and proper traction. They should also offer room for orthotic inserts as needed and not fit too snug as to cause rubbing and skin irritation. As you age, you naturally lose some feeling in your feet, and blood circulation to them can be diminished by mobility issues or diseases like diabetes. Proper foot care that involves wearing well-fitting, supportive shoes is sure to amp up your desire to stay fit.
Mobility Aids: Isn’t a mobility aid the proverbial ‘crutch’ you lean on because you can’t stay active? False. Mobility aids are designed to empower and stimulate movement for someone experiencing problems with walking or standing. The right mobility aid, like an ergonomic cane or knee scooter, can actually encourage someone to get out and go to the park with their grandkids rather than sit at home and watch TV.
How do you know if you should talk to your doctor about a mobility aid? If you are spending more and more time off your feet because it is hard to bear weight, you feel dizzy or unbalanced when standing, you’ve fallen multiple times, or you experience pain, discomfort or fatigue when walking or standing for more than 10 minutes – those are all good signs you should have the conversation.
As your metabolism slows with the hormonal fluctuations that accompany getting older, maintaining a healthy weight can take even more work. Finding the motivation to not only exercise, but exercise regularly, is made easier with a handful of companions and accessories – from canines to canes, every little bit can help.