When you were younger, you probably imagined that as you got older you’d start to take it easy, and have more time to do what you want. These days though, it seems like no one’s slowing down just because they’re nearing retirement age. Between work, family, and socializing, there’s not much free time—and when there is, most people aren’t likely to spend it at the gym. We all know that staying fit is important to our health, but in the moment it can be hard to commit to working out.
If you’re in your 60s, a regular exercise routine can help you have more energy and lessen many age-related health concerns. It may not be easy to get into the swing of things—you might find that your strength or endurance isn’t quite what you remember it to be. We lose bone and muscle mass as we age, adding to this frustration. Instead of getting discouraged, look into exercise options that meet your current level of ability. That’s just a starting point: The more your commit to a healthy lifestyle, the more your overall fitness level will increase. To get back in the habit of being more active, start out with some slow exercises and build up from there:
Take Aerobics at Your Pace
Many gyms and health centers offer aerobic exercise classes that are specifically tailored to older adults. While you might feel sheepish about signing up, it’s much better than huffing and puffing your way through a high-intensity class! Plus you’ll still get the benefits: Even five minutes a day of low-intensity aerobic exercise will benefit your heart health. As your endurance builds, you’ll likely be able to get up to the recommended level of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least every other day. Another bonus: These classes are a great place to make new friends.
Adapt Basic Calisthenics
If you’re less of a gym person, there are plenty of exercises that you can do in your home. Many of the simple calisthenics you may remember from PE class can still benefit you now. But instead of throwing yourself into an intense routine, do some research online first to learn about ways to adapt these exercises to your fitness level. For example, if pushups are too much, you can start by doing a pushup upright against the wall (it’s not exactly the same, but it’s a start!). Once you’ve regained some arm strength, move to doing a pushup on the floor but with your knees down.
Try Gentle Yoga
Yoga promotes flexibility and balance, which can help you not only with your fitness but also with your day-to-day activities. It also has many stress-relieving benefits, so that’s a nice bonus. A gentle yoga class moves a little more slowly than a “regular” yoga class, but the biggest difference is that as you move through the poses, the instructor will give you options that allow you to adapt the pose to your range of motion and skill level. Even if you’re younger, gentle yoga can be a great way to start learning yoga.
Lift (a Little) Weight
Buy a small pair of weights (or get an adjustable pair) that will allow you to start small and work your way up. Starting with hand weights of just a pound, try lifting the hand weights above your head with your arms extended straight and try to hold that position for at least ten seconds. Next, do the same thing with your arms extended horizontally to your sides. If you find that position is easy, you can move up to a heavier set of weights. If you find it’s too hard, try those motions without the weights.
Before you begin any exercise program—even one that’s low intensity—you should consult a physician to be sure that you aren’t compromising your health. This is especially important if you have a preexisting condition like chronic back or neck pain. While exercise can be highly beneficial for chronic pain, it’s vital that you’re doing the right type of exercise and using proper form. If you’re suffering from chronic back pain and want to get back your life, call the Spine Institute Northwest at 888-712-0318.