Courtesy: Ho‘okele Care at Home
KEEPING STRONG, FIT AND
Exercise and physical activity are great ways to have fun, enjoy the outdoors, and spend time with family and friends. Whether joining friends for a walk on the beach, playing a round of golf, relaxing in a yoga class, doing household chores or working in the yard, regular exercise and physical activity provide many health benefits. But in order to reap the benefits of exercise, you need to make it a regular part of your daily life. Being physically active every day can help you stay strong and fit so you can perform your daily activities and maintain your independence.
MAKE IT SAFE
Start by talking with your physician and a physical or occupational therapist about the kinds of exercises that will be the most beneficial to you — exercises that match your abilities and limitations, as well as your level of fitness. Ask your health professional how physical activity can help you, whether you should avoid certain activities and how to modify exercises to fit your situation.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OR EXERCISE?
What is the difference between physical activity and exercise, you ask. Is there even a difference? Yes, there is.
Physical activity gets your body moving. These include activities such as gardening, or walking the dog or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise, on the other hand, is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned and repetitive, such as tai chi, or an aerobics class. Incorporating both in your life will provide you with health benefits that can make you feel better and enjoy life more as you age.
FOUR TYPES OF EXERCISES TO TRY
Increasing your endurance will help you walk farther and faster — and help you tackle uphill climbs. Strengthening your muscles will make you stronger. By improving your balance, you will have more body control. Increasing flexibility will help keep your body limber and flexible. The goal is to be creative and to choose from each of the four types of exercises: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Mixing it up will help you reap the benefits of each type of exercise as well as reduce the risk of injury.
HOW INCREASED ENDURANCE HELPS YOU
Endurance, or aerobic, activities, such as brisk walking or swimming, increase your breathing and heart rate and improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Endurance activities will help you bike, rake leaves or mow the lawn, dance, climb stairs or hills and play tennis.
HOW INCREASED MUSCLE STRENGTH HELPS YOU
Strengthening exercises such as weightlifting and using resistance bands can increase muscle strength. Even small increases in muscle strength can make a big difference in your ability to remain independent and carry out activities such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. Exercises to help strengthen your lower body will improve your balance. By increasing your muscle strength, you can continue to carry a full basket of laundry up the stairs, or lift your carry-on bag into the overhead bin of the airplane, open jars, carry your smaller grandchildren and lift bags of mulch in your garden.
HOW GOOD BALANCE WILL HELP YOU
Balance exercises like tai chi can improve your ability to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or standing still. Good balance is important in preventing falls and avoiding the disability that results from falling. Improving your balance can help you: turn around quickly when you’re on a walk and hear a bicycle bell behind you. It can help you walk on an uneven sidewalk without losing your balance, or stand on your tiptoes to reach for something on a top shelf, or walk up and down the stairs.
HOW BEING FLEXIBLE HELPS YOU
Practicing yoga and/or doing other stretching exercises will help you stay flexible and limber, thus giving you more freedom of movement for your regular physical activity, as well as your everyday activities. Improving your flexibility will make it easier for you to do things such as swing a golf club, make your bed, bend over to tie your shoelaces, pull a sweater over your head or look over your shoulder as you back your car out of the driveway.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START
Exercise and physical activity can have a positive effect on your daily life. Even if you think you are too old or too out of shape to exercise, making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your life will give you more energy and the ability to do the things you like to do. If you’re already active, keep up the good work! If you are not now exercising, it’s never too late to start.
Valerie Takahashi is director of business development for Ho‘okele Care at Home.