Aging is inevitable. People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but that number is expected to grow to be 19% of the population by 2030. Why? Improvements in medicine, science and technology have enabled people to live longer.
However, baby boomers are more likely to have a chronic illness regardless of longer life expectancy. Next to smoking, lack of physical activity and poor diet together are the second underlying cause of death in the US.
As we age we can expect changes to our skin, hair, height, hearing, vision, muscle mass, sleep, bones, brain and nervous system, heart and blood circulation, lungs and kidneys. How we age depends on both genetics and lifestyle choices. Many older adults fail to connect healthy behaviors with quality of life. Improving your physical activity is a lifestyle change that can change how well you age.
Here are some common misconceptions about beginning to exercise, as we get older:
- It’s not safe for me
- I have [you name it] health condition
- I am too old to start now
- I don’t have time
- I can’t afford it
- It will hurt my joints
- It’s boring
- I am afraid I will hurt myself or fall
- I am getting older so my health will decline anyway
The truth is many symptoms of old age are a result of inactivity and exercise is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. It always can help you avoid and/or manage chronic conditions and can often take the place of medications.
So how do you get started?
- Work with a qualified professional
- Ease into it – build up little by little
- Use proper alignment and correct form to avoid injury
- Ensure your exercise routine is designed to meet your unique needs
- Find an activity that you enjoy
- Recognize the signs or problems of when an activity is too strenuous
- Stop if you feel dizzy, short of breath, chest pain, get nauseous, light headed, joint swelling; exercise should not hurt or make you feel lousy
For everyone, especially the older adult, there are many reasons to consider using a personal trainer. A personal trainer can help you exercise correctly, monitor your progress, help you avoid injury, and empower and motivate you.
One of the key things you can do to extend the quantity of your years and also the quality is to make lifestyle changes. To age gracefully, the most important lifestyle change you can make is to exercise.