Exercise is important at any age. Just because your body may not do what it could do when you were in your twenties, doesn’t mean you can’t stay active and set physical goals for yourself.
Some physical benefits include:
Researchers in Scandinavia found that alpine skiing could improve muscular reflexes in older adults. For this study, people around their mid-sixties practiced skiing for twelve weeks. In the end their bodies were faster and better at responding to changes that affected their stability. In other words, their muscles got smarter, and their balance improved (5). While these results are specifically for alpine skiing, which may be hard to partake in, depending on y our physical dexterity and geographic location, it does show that by exercising consistently over a period of time, you can change your body for the better.
Maybe you can’t pick up and carry as much weight as you used to, or it’s harder to stand on one foot. The reason is that you stopped doing these activities. Physical improvements are possible at any age. The important point here is to focus on meeting one small, individual goal at a time. Identify an exercise or movement you want to accomplish and think of a way to make it possible. Hold on to something to keep your balance, lighten the load by using less weight, or break the exercise up into smaller movements that are possible to complete one at a time. If you master the small goals, you’ll be well on your way to doing what you’d once thought impossible.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before attempting any exercise outside of your usual routine, and they can give you suggestions to reduce your risk of injury.
(1) Teh, C., Chan, Y., Lim, K., Kee, C., Lim, K., Yeo, P., Azahadi, O., Fadhli, Y., Tahir, A., Lee, H., & Nazni, W. (2015). Association of physical activity with blood pressure and blood glucose among Malaysian adults: A population-based study. BMC Public Health, 15: 1205. link
(2) Zhao, S., Zhang, Z., Long, Q., Ma, Y., Lian, X., Yang, Y., Gao, W., Chen, Z., & Wang, L. (2016). Association between time of day sports-related physical activity and the onset of acute myocardial infarction in a Chinese population. PLoS One, 11, e:0146472. link
(3) de Labra, C., Guimaraes-Pinheiro, C., Maseda, A., Lorenzo, T., & Millán-Calenti, J. (2015). Effects of physical exercise interventions in frail older adults: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. BMC Geriatrics, 15:154. link
(4) Moore, S, Hallsworth, K., Jakovljevic, D, Blamire, A., He, J., Ford, G., Rochester, L., & Trenell, M. (2015). Effects of community exercise therapy on metabolic, brain, physical, and cognitive function following stroke: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29, 623-635. link
(5) Lauber, B., Keller, M., Gollhofer, A., Müller, E., & Taube, W. (2011). Spinal reflex in response to alpine skiing in the elderly. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 21 Suppl. 1, 62-68 link
(6) Lejczak, A., Josiak, K., Wegrzynowska-Teodorczyk, K., Rudzinska, E., Jankowska, E., Banasiak, W., Piepoli, M., Wozniewski, M., & Ponikowski, P. (2016). Nordic walking may safely increase the intensity of exercise training in healthy subjects and in patients with chronic heart failure. Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 25, 145-149. link
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