Some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or ask you to get fit enough to run a marathon.
These simple exercises can do wonders for our health. They help keep weight under control, improve balance and range of motion, strengthen bones, protect joints, prevent bladder control problems and even ward off memory loss. No matter what our age or fitness level, these activities can help us get in shape and lower our risk of disease.
Swimming is simply the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports our body and takes the strain off painful joints; so we can move them more fluidly. Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing. Research has found that swimming can also improve our mental state and put us in a better mood.
This Chinese martial art that combines movement and relaxation is good for both body and mind. Tai chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into another. Because the classes are offered at various levels, Tai Chi is accessible for people of all ages and fitness levels. It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness and balance is something we struggle with, as we get older.
Lifting lightweights won’t bulk up our muscles, but it will keep them strong. Muscle also helps burn calories. Similar to other exercise, strength training may also help preserve brain function in later years. Before starting any weight-training programme, always start light, with just one or two pounds.
The idea is that we’re able to lift weights 10 times with ease. After a couple of weeks, increase that by a pound or two. If we can easily lift the weights through the entire range of motion more than 12 times, move up to a slightly heavier weight, but it’s important not to over exert, to avoid possible injury.
Walking is simple, yet it can help us stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift our mood and for example, lower our risk of a number of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.
All we need is a well-fitting and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10 to15 minutes at a time. Over time, we can start to walk further and faster, until we’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.
These exercises won’t help us look better, but they do something just as important, they strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence.
While many women are familiar with Kegels, these exercises can benefit men too. To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze the muscles you would use to prevent yourself from passing urine or gas. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds, then release. Make sure to completely relax your pelvic floor muscles after the contraction. Repeat 10 times. Try to do four to five sets a day.
Finally, many of the things we do for fun and work count as exercise. Mowing the lawn counts as physical activity; so does ballroom dancing and playing with our children or grandchildren. As long as we’re doing some form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and include two days of strength training a week, we can consider ourselves active.