December 14, 2011

What Does Exercise Look Like for an Older Woman?

It’s pretty simple!

Start where you are. You may be bed- or chair-bound or you may be extremely active and always in motion. Those who are already extremely active can stop reading now, unless you have a friend you want to encourage,  but the rest of us need to talk.

Health isn’t just a matter of what you eat—it’s also a matter of what you do. Simple things like sitting in the sun or wandering around a store can make good contributions to overall health and well-being.

What we call health is really the strength of our bodily processes including movement, digestion and thinking. So regardless of how much you are/aren’t doing now, you can start where you are and simply decide to make an effort to get a little stronger.

Do what you can plus just a little more. If you’ve been in bed for a while, you aren't going to march out and take a 3-mile walk. Walking to the bathroom may be your goal today. Or even just lifting your arms once in a while and wiggling your feet. Whatever you can comfortably do, just do a little more—kind of like holding your breath. You don’t try to suffocate, you just extend the time a little bit. So whatever you’re able to do, do it to the edge of your comfort level and try to do it just a little bit more. 

If you’re tired the next day, take a recovery day. With age, we recover more slowly and you may only want to work on your strength every other day. Or, you may do something every day but try to challenge different body parts (walk one day, do laundry the next.)

If you can walk around the block, walk a bit past before turning back. If you can walk into a store and back out, park farther away than usual. If you can walk ½ a mile, try to go a few minutes more before turning back.

It’s not just about your legs either. If you have a dishwasher, wash the dishes by hand. Use a manual can opener instead of an electric one. Push your own groceries and lift the bags one at a time.  Clean out your closet. Find things to get up and do!

Every day, without making it painful or too hard, do more little things that work your body and activate muscle tone.  Your appetite and your energy may improve, and pretty soon we’ll be talking about you grabbing 2 cans of green beans, or 2 mixing bowls, and doing a few bicep curls!

Just think about giving up many of your modern conveniences and take the time to do things in a more basic and physical way.

Depending on your overall strength, how much you can do may have limits but you may also be surprised to find you can do much more than you thought. Just don't stop stretching what you try to do!

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