5 Ways to Stay Active As You Get Older
Modern life is one big pain in the back. As automation takes away more and more jobs involving any sort of real physical activity, many of us find ourselves living from seat-to-seat. We wake up, get out of bed, get into the car, sit down at our desks, drive home, sit on the couch, go back to bed, and repeat. There’s a reason they say that sitting is the new smoking, we are quite literally sitting ourselves to death.
For many people, the conveniences of modern life can contribute to a lack of physical activity.
Why spend time walking around the mall when you can shop for anything you want online? Why go for a scenic stroll through nature when you can watch Planet Earth on Netflix from the comfort of your couch? Why take the stairs when you can easily catch the elevator? The massive prominence of back problems in 80% of people around the world is surely influenced by the perks of modern technology. We have traded our health for convenience.
We can do our backs a great service by making physical exercise a priority in our lives. But as we grow older, particularly into our 50s, it can be difficult to maintain exercise regimens that seemed easy when we were younger. Below are a few ways you can stay active as you grow older to maintain not only a healthy back but an overall healthy lifestyle as well.
Going for a walk is a great way to stay active. It’s a great low-impact way to exercise that most people can enjoy. For those with preexisting injuries that may hinder them from doing higher-intensity workouts, walking can be a great way to burn calories and fat. While walking, we typically burn about 100 calories per mile. This means that in just one hour of moderately-paced walking you can burn up to 300 calories!
Regular walking can also improve balance, strengthen bones, and reduce stress. Regular walkers can up the intensity of their walks by taking paths that go and down hills.
2. Swimming and Water Aerobics
Swimming and water aerobics are both great low-impact ways to keep moving. They are the preferred exercises for people who want to stay active but may be hindered by joint issues like arthritis. Water aerobics is offered at a lot of gyms and fitness clubs as an exercise class tailored specifically to older people. The classes usually take place in waist-deep water and consist of a variety of resistance-based exercises. Basic swimming exercises like the breaststroke can burn over 400 calories an hour depending on your body type.
Swimming and water aerobics are also great exercises for those hot summer days!
As we’ve discussed on our blog before, Pilates was an exercise system created for soldiers returning from the first World War. The goal of Pilates is to increase muscle without building bulk. It was designed as a form of physical rehabilitation, and as such, is an incredibly effective low-impact workout for those with preexisting injuries or aging bones and joints. A typical Pilates class will run through a whole body workout involving mat work and exercises with special resistance accessories.
Pilates puts the most emphasis on strengthening your core, making it a great way to improve posture and overall back health.
Yoga can help older adults improve their flexibility. Yoga became popular in the United States starting in the 1970s. Today, there are many different types of Yoga classes offered in gyms and fitness clubs around the country. Yoga is meant to be an exercise for the mind and body. A standard Yoga class will consist of stretching and breathing exercises designed to ease the mind and stretch muscles. Studies have indicated that Yoga can act as a sort of physical therapy for people with bad backs.
We recommend that you start out with a slower-paced variety like Hatha Yoga before jumping into more advanced classes.
Another great low-impact way to exercise is by riding your bike. Like water aerobics, cycling is an ideal way to increase strength for those suffering from joint issues like osteoarthritis. One of the main reasons that cycling is such a great workout for older adults is its adaptability. It’s easy to know how hard to push yourself while cycling just by listening to your body. For those who love the outdoors, a standard bicycle will do the trick. For those who would rather workout in the comfort of their own homes, stationary bikes are just as effective! Recumbent bikes are also very good for older adults as they provide ample support for the lowers backs and pelvis.
Cycling is so low-impact, many people can continue riding into their 70s!
As we grow older, the exercises we enjoyed so much in our youth can pose dangers to our aging bones, joints, and muscles. It’s very important that we learn to adapt to our new circumstances to give our bodies the exercise they need to stay happy, healthy, and pain-free.
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