Exercise — Keeping Up with Your Grandchildren!

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“My grandchildren run me around a lot,” says Irene, age 66. “I’m not complaining. But to keep up with them, I have to exercise every day. I want to be ready for those guys.”

Irene knows that one of the greatest benefits of exercise is being able to do the things you love. Being active with those special young ones in your life can mean extra time to develop shared interests. Start being active together when your grandchildren are young. Pretty soon, it will be a regular part of your life and theirs!

If you’re the grandparent of a baby or toddler, you can still be active together. Push the stroller around the neighborhood or to the park. Play games that get your bodies moving – rolling a ball on the floor can be fun and active. Sign up for baby yoga or baby-friendly swimming classes.

School-aged children are always on the go. Walk to the park together and push their swing. Go to the pool or ride bikes ride together. Play catch, kickball, basketball, or soccer. Play a video fitness game together and see who wins!

If you’re not quite sure how to be active with a teen or young adult grandchild, find out what activities they enjoy. Try hiking, fishing, skating, or tennis. Go golfing or swimming. Ask them to help you in the yard or with heavy-duty household chores.

Try All Four Types of Exercise to Maximize the Benefits

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It’s important to vary your exercise program to prevent boredom and to get the benefit of different types of activities. Be creative. Regularly include endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises in your routine.

  1. Endurance: Endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate and help improve your overall health and fitness. Brisk walking, swimming, and hiking are excellent endurance activities. Activities such as these can make daily activities, such as mowing the lawn or climbing stairs, easier. They also can help you:
  • Keep up with your grandchildren during a trip to the park
  • Dance to your favorite songs at the next family wedding
  • Rake the yard and bag up the leaves
  1. Strength: Strength, or resistance, exercises increase muscle strength. You can use weights or resistance bands for these exercises. Even small improvements in muscle strength can make a big difference in your ability to perform everyday tasks. Strength training also will make it easier to:
  • Lift your carry-on bag into the overhead bin of the airplane
  • Carry groceries in from the car
  • Pick up bags of mulch in the garden
  1. Balance: Balance exercises can help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults. Some lower-body strength exercises also can help improve your balance. Tai chi is another example of a balance exercise. Balance exercises can help you:
  • Turn around quickly when you’re walking and hear a bicycle bell behind you
  • Walk along a gravel path without losing your balance
  • Stand on tiptoe to reach something on a top shelf
  1. Flexibility: Stretching can help your body stay flexible and limber, giving you freedom of movement that helps with your regular daily activities. Yoga is a great example of a flexibility exercise. Flexibility exercises make it easier to:
  • Bend down to tie your shoes
  • Look over your shoulder as you back out of the driveway
  • Stretch to clean hard-to-reach areas of the house

Staying Strong, Fit, and Independent

Exercise and physical activity are great ways to have fun, be with friends and family, and enjoy the outdoors. But regular exercise and physical activity can also have a direct impact on your everyday life. The benefits they provide can help you stay strong and fit enough to perform your daily activities, get around, and maintain your independence.

Four Types of Exercises to Try

Older adults who are inactive lose ground in four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent:

  • endurance
  • strength
  • balance
  • flexibility

Research suggests that you can maintain or at least partially restore these four areas through exercise and physical activity and that doing so improves fitness.

For example, increasing your endurance will make it easier for you to walk farther, faster, and uphill. Strengthening your muscles will make you stronger. Improving your balance can help your sense of body control, and increasing flexibility helps keep your body limber and flexible.

The goal is to be creative and choose from each of the four types — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Mixing it up will help you reap the benefits of each type of exercise, as well as reduce the risk for injury.

How Increased Endurance Helps You

Endurance, or aerobic, activities like brisk walking or swimming increase your breathing and heart rate and improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. They can make it easier for you to

  • push your grandchildren on the swings
  • vacuum
  • work in the garden
  • rake leaves
  • play a sport

How Increased Muscle Strength Helps You

Strength exercises like lifting weights and using resistance bands can increase muscle strength. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance. Increased muscle strength can maintain your ability to

  • climb stairs
  • carry groceries
  • open jars
  • carry a full laundry basket from the basement to the second floor
  • carry your smaller grandchildren
  • lift bags of mulch in the garden

How Good Balance Helps You

Balance exercises like tai chi can improve your ability to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or still. Good balance is important to help prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling. Improving your balance can help you

  • prevent falls
  • stand on tiptoe to reach something on the top shelf
  • walk up and down the stairs
  • walk on an uneven sidewalk without falling

How Being Flexible Helps You

Flexibility, or stretching, exercises can help your body stay flexible and limber, which gives you more freedom of movement for your regular physical activity as well as for your everyday activities. Stretching exercises can improve your flexibility but will not improve your endurance or strength.

Improving your flexibility makes it easier for you to

  • look over your shoulder to see what’s behind you as you back the car out of the driveway
  • make the bed
  • bend over to tie your shoes
  • reach for a food item on a kitchen shelf
  • pull a sweater on over your head
  • swing a golf club

It’s Never Too Late to Start

Exercise and physical activity can have a positive effect on your everyday life. Even if you think you’re too old or too out of shape to exercise, becoming active on a regular basis will give you more energy and the ability to do things more easily, faster, and for longer than before. If you’re already active, keep up the good work. If you don’t exercise now, it’s never too late to start.

Benefits of Exercise

One of the Healthiest Things You Can Do

Like most people, you’ve probably heard that physical activity and exercise are good for you. In fact, being physically active on a regular basis is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Studies have shown that exercise provides many health benefits and that older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active. Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.

Being physically active can also help you stay strong and fit enough to keep doing the things you like to do as you get older. Making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your life can improve your health and help you maintain your independence as you age.

Be as Active as Possible

Regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities. That’s why health experts say that older adults should aim to be as active as possible.

Being Inactive Can Be Risky

Although exercise and physical activity are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself, some older adults are reluctant to exercise. Some are afraid that exercise will be too hard or that physical activity will harm them. Others might think they have to join a gym or have special equipment. Yet, studies show that “taking it easy” is risky. For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged. It’s usually because they’re not active. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

Prevent or Delay Disease

Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking.

Manage Stress, Improve Mood

Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. And, being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

Some people may wonder what the difference is between physical activity and exercise. Physical activities are activities that get your body moving such as gardening, walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured, and repetitive such as weight training, tai chi, or an aerobics class. Including both in your life will provide you with health benefits that can help you feel better and enjoy life more as you age.

Three Keys to Exercise Success

You want to be more active, and you’ve already talked to your doctor about the types of exercise and physical activity that are right for you. But now you’re wondering how to get started. How can you fit more activity into your lifestyle and keep going every day?

Here are three keys to your exercise success:

  1. Include physical activity in your everyday life. If you want to experience all the health benefits of exercise, it’s important to do it regularly. Make it a priority. Think of ways to include physical activities throughout your day, such as in the morning before your schedule gets too busy.

Try to find ways to make physical activity easy, interesting, and fun. Think of activities that you enjoy and find appealing. If you like the outdoors, try biking, swimming, or gardening. To add a social twist, invite a friend to become your “exercise buddy”—the two of you could play tennis or take a yoga class together.

Another great way to incorporate exercise into your daily life is to try activities that might not seem like exercise.

  • Do some arm curls with a carton of milk or a 1-pound can while putting groceries away.
  • Walk to a coworker’s office instead of calling or e-mailing.
  • Park at the far end of the lot and walk briskly to the store.
  1. Try all four types of exercise. When you start an exercise routine, it can be easy to fall into a rut of doing the same activities every day. But, if you mix it up with lots of different activities, you are more likely to stick with the habit over time without getting bored. The four types to try are: 
  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  1. Plan for breaks in the routine. Your days aren’t all alike, and that means that sometimes you will miss a few days of physical activity. Vacations, visits from grandchildren, or unexpected events can interrupt your exercise routine. But don’t get discouraged. You can get back on track!
  • Try to remember the reasons you started exercising and the goals you set for yourself.
  • Consider asking family or friends to help by encouraging you or exercising with you.
  • Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Try something comfortable or easier if you don’t like an activity you’ve started.
  • Be flexible. If your grandchildren are visiting, schedule your exercise break during their naptime, or take them with you when you go for a walk.

Tips on Staying Motivated to Exercise

One of the great challenges of being physically active is staying motivated. When it’s too hot or too cold outside or you’re not in the mood, it’s all too easy to put off your activity for another day. So, how do you keep going and even challenge yourself to do more?

For many people, a desire to stay healthy and independent is an important motivator. Ron’s family history of heart disease and high cholesterol convinced him to be more active. “I got a step counter and started walking briskly in my neighborhood. I feel like I’m doing something to improve my health, and I always come home with more energy for the rest of my day.”

Making exercise a regular part of daily life helps many older adults keep their commitment to being active. Their advice is to:

  • Make it a priority. Think of your time to exercise as a special appointment.
  • Make it easy. Put weights next to your chair so you can lift while watching TV, or join a gym that’s on your route to work.
  • Make it fun and social. Do more of the activities you already like and know how to do. Join an exercise class or exercise with a buddy.

Once you start exercising regularly, your body will get used to a higher level of activity. To prevent boredom and help you build up the benefits:

  • Add new activities that challenge you, try the Carbofix to see fast changes on you body, look in to the Carbofix reviews to know more.
  • If you can, do your activities longer, further, or harder. Walk a longer distance. Shift from walking to jogging. Use heavier weights or a stronger resistance band.

“I’m not going to say I don’t struggle with motivation from time to time,” says Beverly, age 70, “but the friends I’ve made in my water aerobics class remind me how fun exercise can be.”

Staying Safe While Exercising

You may already know that exercise is an important part of staying healthy. But how can you stay safe while exercising? The good news is that exercise and moderate physical activity are safe for almost everyone, including older adults. Here are a few things to keep in mind while exercising.

  1. Take precautions to avoid injury. The key to exercising safely, especially when just beginning an exercise program, is moderation.
  • When starting an exercise program, start slowly with low-intensity exercises.
  • Wait at least 2 hours after eating a large meal before doing strenuous exercise.
  • Wear appropriate shoes and comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Warm up with low-intensity exercises at the beginning of each exercise session.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty.
  • If exercising outdoors, pay attention to your surroundings, including the weather, traffic hazards, uneven walking surfaces, and strangers.
  1. Keep an eye out for signs that you should stop exercising. You might experience minor discomfort or muscle soreness when you start to exercise. This should go away as you get used to the activities. However, if an exercise is too intense, your body will give you stronger signals that you need to stop. If you experience any of the following, stop exercising and follow up with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and any modifications you should consider.
  • Pain or pressure in your chest, neck, shoulder, or arm
  • Dizziness or feeling sick to your stomach
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Muscle cramps
  • Severe pain in joints, feet, ankles, or legs
  1. Consider talking with your doctor. In some situations, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine. If you have an ongoing health condition or certain other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis, or if you haven’t seen your doctor for a while, check with your doctor about your plans to start exercising.

Fitting Physical Activity Into Your Day

Like most people, you’ve probably heard that regular exercise and physical activity are good for you. But your days are filled with family, work, errands, volunteering, and any number of other important activities. Where’s the time for physical activity? Here are a few tips to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your day.

Seize every opportunity to be active. Going shopping? Park at the far end of the lot and walk briskly to the store entrance. Take a few extra minutes to walk the entire mall or every aisle of the grocery store. (Be sure to pat yourself on the back when you resist temptation in the candy aisle!) Need to talk with a colleague at work? Don’t call or e-mail. Walk down the hall or take the stairs to her office. Waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning? Do a few wall push-ups.

Do the things you enjoy and pick up the pace a bit. If you love the outdoors, explore local hiking or biking trails. If music is your passion, listen while you do yard work or give dancing lessons a try. Make a social occasion with family or friends an active occasion—play basketball or walk your dogs together.