by Char Brooks, JD
We all know that exercise really helps when it comes to weight loss and fighting disease. It’s an excellent stress reliever, helps you sleep better, and can really boost your self esteem. If you’re exercising regularly, congratulations on doing a good thing for yourself.
If you’re not exercising or haven’t been exercising in a while, it’s never too late to start. Just be sure to talk with your doctor first so that whatever you’d like to do is safe for you.
Here are a couple simple things you may enjoy that will improve your well being:
1. Take a deep breath: This is not exercise per se but it is good for you. Shallow breathing can cause muscle weakness, fatigue and discomfort according to the University of Missouri’s Center on Aging.
You can take a deep breath any time by simply inhaling to the count of 3, hold for a moment and exhale to the count of 6. Anytime you intentionally focus on your breathing, something will change. Try it and see what happens! For some easy breathing exercises for older people, click here.
2. Stretch: If you find yourself turning into a couch potato, consider this stretch as a way to get started. You can even do this if you’re chair-bound or spending many hours working on the computer.
Place both your feet flat on the floor and allow your feet to sink into the floor. Pause. Take a deep inhale as you lightly clasp your hands together. Then, slowly lift your arms above your head as you turn your folded palms towards the ceiling. Exhale. Take two deep breaths and slowly lower your arms and release your hands. Repeat. You can also do this while standing. For some excellent stretches click here.
3. Walk: Studies have shown that a ten minute walk is a powerful mood booster. If outdoor walking isn’t for you given this cold weather, how about window shopping and mall walking? You can even do aerobic walking with an exercise dvd as long as you have your doctor’s permission. Check your local library for these and other DVD’s that may inspire you.
There is no one right way to exercise. The only things that matter are that you find something that you enjoy doing, that is doctor approved, and that you take the time to do it as often as you can. Start with just one deep breath and you’re on your way to a healthier more active lifestyle.
This article was written as part of our nutrition series for March. The information included is not intended to be medical advice, but a reminder of the things that many of us already know. Please make sure that you consult with your physician before you start any type of exercise program.
There are many programs throughout the state that are specifically designed to help seniors engage in regular exercise at the appropriate level. You may find one in your area by looking for a Senior Health & Wellness Center, or just Wellness Center in the phone book or through an internet search. Michigan Office of Services to the Aging has a searchable directory of those Wellness Centers that are supported through specific funding. However, there are other Senior Wellness Centers throughout the state that are run by different entities such as the hospital, senior center, Area Agency on Aging, or rehabilitation center.
When writing this article, Char consulted these resources: