Safe Exercise for the Elderly

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Many people believe that elderly people only become frailer as they age.  This does not need to be true.  It is within the power of most older people to reverse this process through safe exercise.  A medical professional should be consulted before beginning any program of exercise, but barring any severe health problems, a program that is built up gradually shouldn’t pose a problem.

Recommended exercises for starters are low-impact, that is movement that will not overly-jar the joints, such as walking or swimming.  Many swimming pools offer water aerobics classes catering specifically to seniors.  Stretching and strength training are also safe additions to this exercise routine.  Examples can be found through the internet or in neighborhood classes of yoga, feldenkrais or tai-chi, among numerous other possibilities.  Additionally, a number of regular, household tasks can bring the same benefits as organized exercise.  Gardening, vigorous cleaning, going out to the mailbox and even folding laundry can all be turned into stretching, moving activities.  In fact, chasing after grandchildren can be a better workout, and much more fun, than the most flashy gyms and high-tech aerobics classes.

There are some precautions that should be taken before and during exercise.  First of all, have the right equipment.  This includes good, supportive sport shoes, loose-fitting clothing and an easy-to-use water bottle.  Staying hydrated is of vital importance.  Likewise, any dizziness or difficulty breathing should be reported to a doctor.  Any workout must include both warm-up and cool-down exercises in order to avoid injury.

The benefits of consistent activity are clear for anyone.  For young and old alike, exercise helps one lose weight and increase strength, flexibility and lung strength.  Of particular interest to older people is that exercise increases blood flow to the brain, induces better sleep and promotes good balance.  Having an exercise partner will help assure getting out and about with social interaction on a regular basis.  In doing so, exercise also helps fight depression.

So, grab a good day and a good friend and have a great time getting out and moving!

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