As you get older, your body starts to deteriorate. Many things can become more difficult, from going for a run to just staying upright. Keeping fit becomes even more crucial as you get older, helping to improve your overall health and wellbeing. But as you enter middle-age and then your later years, maintaining your fitness can become harder. As well as feeling like your body is capable of less, you can also feel like you’re too busy with other commitments to work on your fitness. However, staying fit is important, and once you enter retirement age, you have much more time to do it. Even if you’re not getting old just yet, it’s useful to know how you can help older relatives to stay fit.
Start As Early as Possible
If you want to have an easier time staying fit when you’re older, it’s a good idea to work on your fitness before you reach your later years. If you enter your 50s, 60s or 70s as an already physically fit person, it will be easier to maintain a good level of fitness. Being a mostly sedentary person all your life and then trying to get fit when you’re older will make things more difficult. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to get fit if you haven’t been particularly active before. You just might need to start with more gentle exercise, like going for walks.
Pick a Sport You Love
One of the best things to do may be to choose a sport to dedicate yourself to. A study that followed 3,400 men over 20 years found that those who participated in sports for longer periods were more likely to remain active when they were older. This includes both team sports and anything you might do on your own, such as hiking, cycling or swimming. While the study looked at men, it can’t be applied to women, but there’s a very real chance that the findings are true for women too. Dedicating yourself to sport doesn’t have to mean sticking to one sport, although you might find one that you’re particularly fond of. If you’re not particularly active, look at webmd.com for recommendations for beginners.
Make Staying Fit a Social Activity
For many people, the idea of getting fit can seem dull and lonely. Sitting in a gym on your own is certainly not a good idea of fun for a lot of people. However, staying fit doesn’t have to be a solo activity. In fact, you can benefit from making it more social and participating in activities with other people. When you exercise with other, you can motivate each other and turn your physical activities into something more. For many, going for a walk with a friend is much better than walking on a treadmill. It’s also an excellent way to stay social and avoid isolation when you’re older. You can often find walking groups and other social groups just for older people. Loneliness is a big problem for older adults, so anything that helps to prevent it is a good idea.
Choose the Right Residence and Care
As you get older, you might find that you need some help with day-to-day activities or you might want the reassurance of some extra support. Even if you’re not at that stage yet, it might be something that you’re thinking about for your parents. Selecting the right place to live and the right care if you need any can make a big difference to how well you keep up your fitness. If you’re looking at places for elderly relatives or even yourself, check out what they offer in terms of activities and support for maintaining health and fitness. You can look at websites like McKnightPlace.com, where they describe how they maintain their residents’ quality of life. Many assisted living communities, retirement communities and nursing homes offer a range of activities for residents to enjoy.
Find Activities to Work on Key Areas
There are certain aspects of fitness that are important to work on as you get older. Your balance and flexibility can be affected by aging. Less elastic skin, tendons and ligaments can make your joints stiffer. You can also lose muscle mass, and your aerobic fitness might not be as good as you get older. Choosing exercise that helps you to work on these areas is a great idea, and there are plenty of different activities to choose from. Walking offers a gentle way to improve strength, balance and aerobic fitness. Swimming and water-based exercises can help with strength and cardio while being easy on the joints. Many people also recommend weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, including Pilates and yoga, which can help with strength and flexibility.
Switch to Activities with Less Impact As You Get Older
You might already be an active person, but perhaps you’re worried about having to live a sedentary lifestyle as you age. Fortunately, you don’t have to stop moving completely when you’re older. However, it is a good idea to start thinking about transitioning to activities that have less impact, which is especially helpful for your joints. Instead of running, you might take up hiking or cycling. Rather than playing contact sports, you might want to start playing tennis or trying an activity like swimming.
Look at Diet Too
Physical activities are important for staying fit, but it’s also a good idea to think about your diet. Eating well helps to prevent illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, as well as giving you the energy you need to stay fit and healthy. As you get older, cooking healthy food can sometimes get a bit more difficult. Even though you might have more time, you might not have the ability or the motivation to cook for yourself all the time. It can help to cook in bulk and freeze meals or to order meals that you can either eat right away or conveniently store and reheat when you want them.
You might not be feeling the years just yet, but everyone gets older. You can also take these tips to help your older relatives.