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Staying active at any age is important, but for seniors, regular exercise benefits not only mobility and strength, but mental clarity and mood. Even if you’ve never been active, there are easy ways to build healthy exercise habits without making a complete lifestyle change. Below is a list of tips for staying in shape, increasing mobility, and building strength, specifically geared towards the needs of senior citizens.
- Always warm up.
If you aren’t used to physical activity, it’s important to start slowly. Beginning activity when your body isn’t ready can lead to injury and stop you from pursuing your wellness goals. Start any fitness regimen with a brisk walk to get your blood pumping. If balance is a concern for you, hold onto a rail or door handle and walk in place. Help increase your accountability by walking with a friend or a group of peers. If you live in a retirement community, take advantage of the fitness center and support staff. Initially, wellness goals can be small: one ten minute walk a day, or a leisurely walk after meals. If you struggle with limited mobility or are wheelchair bound, consider simple arm exercises, turning from the torso and bending, and neck exercises. The most important thing to remember, is before physical activity of any intensity, it’s crucial to warm up the body.
- Stretching for senior pain points.
As we age, our muscles shorten and lose elasticity. That’s why stretching is so valuable for seniors. However, certain muscle groups are better to target for improving balance and mobility. Often, seniors feel pain in their hips, lower back, and knees, and these parts of the body are where you can start to build better up that balance and mobility. However, be sure to talk to your doctor about the best stretching routines to meet your pain points.
There are two different types of stretching: static and dynamic. Although static stretching might be easier for seniors with limited mobility, it is often recommended as a post-workout routine. Static stretching is the best for lengthening muscles and focuses more on engaging the muscles in the stretch and deepening your stretch over a period of time. When static stretching, you’ll want to maintain the stretch for at least thirty seconds while continuing to breathe regularly. Dynamic stretching is when you couple static stretching with oscillating movement to increase range of motion in joints. When doing dynamic stretching, remember to go slowly and stop if you feel any pain.
- Strength building for seniors.
Strength training for seniors is less about building new strength and more about combating the natural loss of muscle through the aging process. One of the most simple methods of building strength is resistance training. This can be done without weights and other equipment, using the body itself as the tool. Resistance training can be as easy as stabilizing yourself against a rail or chair and engaging in repetitive motion like lifting your leg to the back, front, or side slowly at least five times. For seniors interested in beginning a strength training regimen, first speak to your doctor and determine which muscle groups should be addressed to move towards your fitness goals, whether that’s better mobility or simply more muscle stability for things like standing for longer periods of time.
- Fitness for mental wellness.
Research shows that when seniors engage in regular fitness habits, they can also reduce their risk for depression and dementia. Not to mention, many community centers like the YMCA offer fitness classes specifically geared toward senior citizens that not only get you out and active but also give you access to like-minded peers. Having this type of support when making lifestyle changes can help keep you accountable and excited.
If you’re hoping to increase your strength and flexibility but don’t want to do so without more guidance, it might be wise to seek out a personal trainer with experience in helping seniors become more active and reach their fitness goals. But, doing so can be expensive. Plus, a wellness regimen is all well and good, but sometimes health issues can’t be addressed short-term by simply getting more active, meaning more long-term solutions and expenses might come up.
One way to increase your cash flow in retirement to help as you make these changes for your health and get the care and support you need is by considering a life settlement. If you still maintain a life insurance policy you no longer need, did you know you can sell all or a portion of that policy for more than the cash surrender value? This is called a life settlement, or viatical. Contact Life Settlement Advisors today to learn more about the life settlement process or see if you pre-qualify.
David and Judy purchased a joint life insurance policy many years ago for estate tax liquidity. Now that the tax laws and the exemption status have changed, they no longer needed their life insurance policy. Judy has been in poor health and the medical bills have been piling up. David discovered he could sell their policy for $78,000.