Frequent exercise is vital for aging adults. Exercising is especially important for seniors because it can help to control blood pressure, cholesterol and weight gain. It can also help you feel happier and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Keeping your body strong allows you to continue the kinds of activities you have enjoyed your whole life.
1. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is one of the most foundational healthy habits. Staying hydrated is especially important in the summertime, when temperatures soar.
Do not wait until you’re thirsty to drink. You should begin drinking water as soon as you wake, so that your organs can wake up too!
When you exercise outdoors in the summer, your body is using water to regulate body temperature. Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration because as we age, we lose our ability to convert water.
Always bring a bottle of water with you and drink a glass or two before heading out.
2. Prepare for the Heat
Apply sunscreen (ideally SPF 30+) half an hour before going outside. Remember, your skin can burn even on cloudy days, so it’s best to apply whenever you plan to go outside.
Each time our skin burns, we increase our risk for skin cancer. Even one bad sunburn can double your risk for malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Check the clock. When it comes to exercising outdoors, time of day is important, especially in the summer. The hottest time of day is generally 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and seniors should avoid exercising outdoors during this time. Morning is best, especially if the weather calls for temperatures in the mid to high-20s.
3. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Exercising in improper footwear can result in injury and pain.
Polyester fabric is not ideal on warm, summer days. Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and aim for cotton blends so that moisture is easily absorbed. Bamboo is a great option, as is Nylon.
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4. Prepare Safely
If you haven’t been physically active lately, it’s important to start slowly. Walking for ten minutes a few times a week is a great way to start.
After a few weeks, you should be able to increase the time to at least 20 minutes. Once you feel comfortable with walking, it may be time to change up the routine and include some other options such as tai chi, line dancing, or aquatics.
Other aerobic activities include tennis and swimming. Hiking and running are more intense options. Remember, always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
5. Recover Safely
A healthy post-workout regimen is just as important as your exercise routine itself. As you age, joints and muscles can become stiff. Stretching helps to loosen these muscles, reducing pain and inflammation in the body. Stretching after exercise reduces muscle fatigue and because your muscles are warm, you will benefit from increased blood circulation.
As a result of a consistent stretching routine, you might find that everyday activities such as brushing your hair or tying your shoes become much easier.
A snack that combines a healthy form of protein and carbohydrates such as an apple with nut butter, cheese and crackers, or nuts and yogurt are great options that aid muscle recovery.Image: pressmaster / 123RF Photo