For Seniors, Staying Fit Can Lead to Happiness

Keeping fit by implementing a daily exercise routine is not only a healthy way to live, it can also a happy one. Research shows that seniors who maintain a daily exercise routine are more productive and, in general, feel good about life. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers some suggestions on how to stay active, healthy, and happy:

  1. It is important for seniors to stretch for five to ten minutes before beginning any exercise regimen. Stretching increases flexibility and agility, which in turn reduces the risk of injury. Regular stretching also diminishes muscle soreness and increases endurance.
  2. Activities like hiking, jogging, or running help to maintain a good heart rate and burn calories, but even something as simple as parking your car farther away from a store to walk or taking stairs instead of elevators will do wonders.
  3. Strength training is an essential component to leading a healthy lifestyle. Strengthening the core muscles of your back and stomach helps to boost endurance and keep you motivated. The AAOS recommends varying the frequency of which muscles you work out, the speed at which you work them and the quantity of repetitions during each program. It is important to take strength training slow at first; unused muscles will need care to return to their former tension and resistance.
  4. Eating healthier also increases your level of energy and reduces the risk of heart problems and obesity. This includes eating leaner meats, more fruit and vegetables, and whole grain foods. Drinking plenty of water and keeping hydrated, especially during a workout, is also important and coincides with eating healthier. Staying away from fatty food and caffeinated beverages such as coffee or soda not only keeps calorie intake and the risk of dehydration down, but helps to eliminate that sluggish, always-full-but-wanting-more feeling.
  5. Relaxation, perhaps surprisingly, is an integral part of maintaining a healthier, happier lifestyle. Massages, day spas, yoga, or just sitting quietly in a room will relieve stress, reduce blood pressure, and even strengthen your immune system. Taking some time for you is a great way to ensure happiness.
  6. Spending time outdoors, breathing fresh air, also raises the spirits and invigorates the body. Even simple tasks like raking leaves, barbequing or having a yard sale will sustain and strengthen your positive mental attitude.

It is important that you consult a physician in case of medical issues that may prohibit certain kinds of activity before beginning any exercise regimen. Some senior housing facilities may have exercise programs readily available; it is always a good idea to check with an administrator for more information on what types of activities are offered and if there is an additional cost. There may also be gyms, YMCAs, YWCAs, and other health facilities nearby worth looking into. If you’re determined to stay fit and eat healthy, no matter how you go about exercising – either with a specially designed fitness program or by taking stairs when available or even going for a walk around the park – you’re on the fast track to a happier, richer life.

About the Author

Dustin Monk blogs for Methodist Senior Home Care, a Chicago-based home care agency.