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Getting the Right Amount of Exercise as You Age

Life is full of mysteries. Why are yawns contagious? How come movie theater popcorn is so expensive? Why do fools fall in love? 

Fortunately, life is also full of certainties. Here’s one: exercise is good for you. Regardless of your age and the intensity of your workout, it will improve your quality of life—assuming you go easy on that popcorn. Exercise and stretching can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve and retain mobility, and even improve immune system function. 

At Brandermill Woods in Richmond, our residents can experience the benefits of exercise with daily fitness classes or with some time in our Wellness Center. You can even get a taste of those benefits right where you’re reading. Put down your screen and stretch out one of your limbs until you feel the tension in the muscles. Hold the position for 10 seconds or so. Now relax. 

Feel a little better? That’s because stretching gets the blood flowing to your muscles and can help flush out the lactic acid that builds up while you rest. Whether you’re an MVP running back or someone with mobility issues, stretching is one of the building blocks of an effective workout.

Here are some specific tips for adding more exercise to your routine. And of course, be sure to consult your health professionals before starting any new exercise program.

Choosing the Right Exercise Plan

Research shows that a successful exercise routine is one that has plenty of variety. Like a good diet, effective exercise regimens keep people interested and active so that they are able to stick to the plan.

The National Institute on Aging identifies four types of exercise that are important for any fitness plan:

  • Endurance: Aerobic activities like walking and dancing that increase your respiration and heart rate

  • Strength: Exercises that strengthen or maintain your muscles, from lifting weights to medicine-ball training

  • Balance: Activities that help prevent falls, from tai chi routines to standing on one foot while gripping a chair

  • Flexibility: Activities that range from simple stretches when you wake up to group yoga sessions

If you’re deciding how to tread the path to good health without succumbing to boredom, try mixing in an activity from each type of exercise every single day.

If in Doubt, Just Get Going

For someone not used to regular exercise, these physical activity guidelines can be daunting: 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, plus a couple of sessions of muscle-strengthening. But don’t despair! Keep the following in mind:

  • Starting cautiously and working steadily toward a target is the surest way to achieve your goals. If you want to maintain mobility in retirement, then the best course of action is to just keep moving. Slow and steady wins the health race!

  • Any amount of exercise is off-the-charts better than no exercise at all. Climbing one story and then taking the elevator the rest of the way is literally a few steps in the right direction.

  • A training buddy can help you keep things in perspective. Solo exercise quickly becomes a grind for many people, with steps to be counted and miles to log. Having a friend to celebrate your triumphs and talk you out of your excuses can be a big help.

Do Something That Makes You Happy

Now for the biggest revelation: exercise can and should be fun! There’s a reason why, 15 years after its release, Nintendo’s Wii Sports video game remains a fixture at rehabilitation clinics and senior residential communities, including Brandermill Woods. What’s not to like about crushing your friends at bowling while getting a light workout—all without leaving the lounge? 

Active Senior Living Designed to Keep You Moving

From chair yoga to water aerobics, Brandermill Woods has an action-packed calendar of events designed to help you enjoy more, not less, independence and adventure in your retirement. Whether you’re golfing, learning how to dance, or hiking at a nearby park, Brandermill Woods can help you have fun while you exercise so that you can enjoy the benefits of independent living for years to come.