You hear it all the time… exercise is good for you. It is important for your physical, mental and emotional health. It makes you stronger, improves balance, controls weight and can boost your energy and your mood. Research shows exercise can ward off disease, reduce the symptoms of chronic illness and possibly even extend your life expectancy. These are all good reasons to exercise!
However, logic and compelling arguments don’t necessarily add up to incentive for seniors who may be contending with the aches and pains of arthritis and experiencing diminishing strength, energy and appetite.
If this is you, don’t despair. Exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing; there are reasonable alternatives in between. Here’s an approach that might work for you.
Reframe it! With a goal of working up to a feasible (age recommended) exercise regime for yourself, start by reframing the concept of exercise in your mind. Replace the word ‘exercise’ with the word ‘activity’, and consider all the areas of your daily routine that already include activity. You’d be surprised to learn that all kinds of daily chores and rituals are actually varying degrees of exercise… in disguise.
- Housework: Sweeping the floor, mopping and vacuuming are all excellent examples of productive activity. Dusting, washing walls, wiping down cupboard and unloading the dishwasher are useful upper body movements that increase blood flow, improve blood pressure and enhance muscle strength. In other words, moderate housework can be good for you!
- Outdoor activities: Aside from the known benefits of fresh air and nature, light yard work such as raking and gardening are activities that can be beneficial to your health and wellbeing. If you don’t have a yard, perhaps you enjoy short walks with the dog or a stroll to get the mail.
- Errands and shopping: Perhaps you shop for clothes, groceries, personal items or gifts. Maybe you routinely go out to do your banking, and/or to visit family and friends. Whatever your situation, just getting out and about is good for you. This means you are moving rather than being sedentary.
Now that you’ve put a positive spin on what you already do… do it more and do it better!
- Try and do at least one light housekeeping chore each day.
- Try taking the stairs more often in your house or the retirement community where you reside.
- When weather permits, get outside to tend to an outdoor chore, run errands or make social calls.
- If you are independently mobile, park further away from your destination to add steps to your commute.
- When you are watching your favourite TV program, make a habit of getting up and walking a lap around your house or building during each commercial.
Any activity that involves movement and doesn’t hurt or stress your joints is likely good for you! Begin by maximizing what you already do, and then, with your doctor’s consent, consider incorporating a few more activities. Remember, there are many ways to be active. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep on moving!