When it comes to the benefits of exercise, there is no expiration date. Whether you’re 24 or 64, fitting in a workout has a number of benefits that can improve your mental and physical health. Improved heart health, balance and healthy joints are all direct results of an active lifestyle, and can help improve quality of life in later years.
Unfortunately, even for younger and middle-aged adults, pushing through a workout isn’t always as easy as it was during younger years. No matter what fitness level you are, aging takes its toll, and there are certain physical limitations to adhere to that weren’t necessary in your 20s, 30s and 40s.
“Challenging your body but knowing your limitations is important,” explains Heather Hall, clinical physiologist at the Riddle Fitness Center at Riddle Hospital. “For example, an individual with osteoarthritis should choose exercises with a lower impact on the joints, such as cycling or theraband exercises.”
So, whether you’re a beginner or fitness pro, what kinds of exercises should you be doing?
“Cardiovascular exercise, no matter what the population, is always most important to an individual’s health,” says Hall. “This type of exercise is essential in the prevention of heart disease and diabetes.”
Depending on your fitness level, try walking or jogging to get yourself into a regular cardio routine. If knee pain begins bothering you, it could be a sign to slow down or talk to your doctor about other options. Hall also suggests trying swimming as an option that’s easy on the joints.
Strength training and stretching are also important parts of an exercise routine. As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass, so resistance training with light dumbbells or a resistance band can help to combat some of that loss, and improve bone strength.
“Finding the right program that works for you can sometimes be a challenge, but there is something out there for everyone,” says Hall. “The best option is to work with a fitness professional to determine your fitness level and have a program designed to meet your goals.”
Although making adjustments to your fitness routine is important, there’s no need to change the frequency of your workouts. All adults, no matter what age, are recommended to stay active and exercise for 30 minutes per day three to five times per week.
Finding ways to exercise as you get older is a smart and easy way to stay fit and improve your physical and mental health, and should remain just as much of a priority as it did during your younger years. The best person to talk to about your fitness needs is your doctor, who is familiar with your medical needs and health history, so talk to them first before starting any routine. To make an appointment with a Main Line Health physician, visit our website.