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Q. As I get older, does it really matter to stay physically active?
A: Absolutely. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. There are many benefits from physical activity:
If you feel out of shape -- but want to remain physically active -- the key to success is to build up slowly from your current fitness level, according to the National Institute On Aging.
The place to start is to determine your fitness level. Begin by asking these questions:
Here are 5 ways you can test your own fitness:
Write down your results. If these exercises were hard to do, just do what’s comfortable and slowly build up. If they were easy, you know your level of fitness is higher. You can be more ambitious and challenge yourself. You can do these simple fitness tests once a month, and measure your progress at each session.
Muscle soreness lasting a few days and slight fatigue are normal after doing muscle-building exercises, at least at first. After doing these exercises for a few weeks, you will probably not be sore after your workout. For some exercises, you may want to start alternating arms and work your way up to using both arms at the same time. Breathe out as you lift or push, and breathe in as you relax. Don’t hold your breath during strength exercises. Holding your breath while straining can cause changes in blood pressure. Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise, especially if you’ve had hip or back surgery.
Safety during exercises is always important, Walk during the day or in well-lit areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings. To prevent injuries, be sure to use safety equipment. If you are exercising outdoors, dress in layers so you can add or remove clothes if you get cold or hot. Drink plenty of liquids when doing any activity that makes you sweat. Before and after you exercise, do a little light activity to warm up and cool down.
Each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. You can learn exercises that will improve your balance and make you steadier on your feet. You can see pictures and short videos of any of these exercises, plus get more fitness tips by going to the National Institute On Aging website.
Source: Al Norman, Mass Home Care
© March 2017