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National Senior Health Fitness Day: Outdoor Exercise

By May 27, 2015Archives

A recent study shows that middle and older-aged people can reduce their chance of premature death by 13 percent if they perform high intensity exercise on a regular basis.
Many older people live mainly sedentary lives and may not feel like they should or can exercise but even for those who are “out of shape,” exercise provides several health benefits.

High intensity exercise makes a person sweat and feel winded. For a person who hasn’t exercised in a while, it may not take much movement to get to this point. There is no need to start out with a marathon and many health care professionals would advise that exercise be increased slowly. “Start low and go slow.”

With Spring and early Summer bringing warmer weather now is a good time to get out and start exercising. Performing outdoor exercise can bring more health benefits as exposure to sunlight provides extra Vitamin D and being outside often increases the “good” mood hormones in the body. As a bonus, physical activity can also help with weight loss.

A senior considering outdoor exercise might start with these activities and the caretaker may benefit as well:

  • Brisk Walks – Walking can provide great benefits for the cardiovascular system. You should be walking fast enough and breathing hard enough that it’s difficult to hold a conversation. You should also take a buddy for safety. Each week, you can increase the distance you walk or you can increase the speed. The main goal is to keep that intensity up.

 

  • Body Weight – Aside from the benefits you get from high intensity exercise, any weight bearing exercise can help to maintain your muscle strength and may help to combat osteoporosis by keeping your bones strong. You can do squats or deep knee bends, lunges, pushups, and sit-ups. Again, you may have to start with only a few repetitions and work up to where you can do 10 or more in “sets” with brief rest periods of only one to two minutes between “sets.”

 

  • Outdoor Equipment – Most parks and outside gathering areas have benches, rocks, or playground equipment that can be used to increase the difficulty of your body weight exercises. You can do pushups off of the back of a park bench or picnic table, tricep pushups, leg lifts, or bent knee push offs using the same benches or try climbing up steps or even a hill. This helps keep that heart rate up. The more you work out, the more you will be able to do which gives you more energy even when not exercising.

Any exercise program should be started only after talking to your doctor. He may have certain guidelines for you to follow based on your medical condition but most health care professionals would advise that exercise is a good thing.

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