Most people tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity and forget to have a well-rounded approach to fitness. Research has shown that it’s important to get all four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility, on a daily basis. Each one of these exercises has different benefits.
Endurance activities, often referred to as aerobic exercise, increase your breathing and heart rate. This type of exercise may delay or prevent diseases that are related to a sedentary lifestyle, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers of the colon and breasts. Examples are as follows:
• Brisk walking, walking uphill, or jogging
• Playing tennis or pickleball
• Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
• Do a little light activity, such as easy walking, before and after your endurance activities to warm up and cool down.
• Listen to your body: Endurance activities should not cause dizziness, chest pain, or pressure.
• Stay hydrated when exercising, especially in summer months.
Quick Tip: Test your exercise intensity
When exercising, you should be able to still have a conversation while breathing harder.
Maintaining muscle mass as you age can make a big difference in activities of daily living. Tasks such as getting up from a chair or the floor, going upstairs, or carrying groceries require a decent level of fitness. Increased muscle strength has also been shown to help prevent falls.
Examples of strength training:
• Lifting weights
• Don’t hold your breath.
• Don’t start with too heavy of weights.
• Pay attention to technique and posture.
Balance exercises help prevent falls. A fall later in life can have serious consequences. Balance exercises may include the following:
• Tai Chi
• Barre exercises (ballet bar)
• Have a sturdy chair or surface nearby to hold onto if you feel unsteady.
Stretching is the most overlooked fitness activity and probably the most important when it comes to preventing injury and improving balance. Tasks such as tying shoes, turning to look behind you, swinging a golf club, or reaching overhead all seem easier when you are more flexible.
Remember these important stretches:
• Calf or “runner’s stretch”
• Hamstring stretch
• Hip flexor stretch
• Chest/shoulder/neck stretches
• Stretch slowly and carefully, don’t rush, and hold for 20 seconds.
• Don’t stretch too far or bounce; listen to your body.
• Be patient/be consistent.
By incorporating these four exercises into your daily activities, you will help:
• Stay independent
• Prevent falls
• Reduce stress and improve sleep
• Prevent diseases
• Maintain a healthy weight
Kerry Golden, PT, provides Outpatient Physical Therapy to the SaddleBrooke community, delivered to your home.