Are you looking for an exercise program but aren’t sure what the best exercises are for your individual needs and perhaps the gym isn’t right for you? There are several options that are great for overall health including weight management, improved balance, range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, and even help slow memory loss.
Regardless of your age or fitness level, according a Harvard Medical School article, “the following activities are some of the best exercises you can do and will help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease.”
Swimming is often referred to as the perfect workout because it incorporates fully body moving but in the buoyancy of the water supporting your body, taking the strain off painful joints and allowing you to move more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing,” according to Dr. Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Researchers have also found that swimming improves your mental state and can improve mood. If you aren’t comfortable swimming, water aerobics is another option to help you burn calories and tone up.
Tai chi is the Chinese martial art combining movement and relaxation; it’s good for both the body and mind and has also been called “meditation in motion.” Tai chi is made up from a series of graceful movements, each transitions smoothly into the next. There are a variety of classes that start at various levels making them accessible and valuable for all ages and fitness levels. “It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older.” Dr Lee says.
When it comes to strength training most people think of power lifters, however, it’s important to note that lifting light weights won’t bulk up muscle mass, rather it will keep your muscles strong. “If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time,” says Dr. Lee.
Additionally, having muscle mass helps burn more calories, even at rest. “The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight,” as Dr. Lee explains. Another benefit of weight lifting is it may also preserve brain function in later years.
Before starting a weight training program, be sure to learn proper form. Start with light weights, even one or two pounds if you aren’t used it. Set a goal to lift the weights ten times with ease. After a few weeks, increase the weight by one or two more pounds. Once you can lift the weights through the entire range of motion more than 12 times, add slightly heaver weight. If you aren’t sure what to do, consider consulting a personal trainer, some will work with you in your home.
Never underestimate the power of walking. Walking helps you stay trim, improves cholesterol, strengthens bones, keeps blood pressure in check, can lift your mood and lower your risk for several diseases (like diabetes and heart disease). Several studies show that walking and other physical activities can even improve memory and resist age-related memory loss. To get started, all you’ll need is well-fitting and supportive shoes. Begin with walking about 10-15 minutes and slowly, over time, you can increase the time or distance you walk. You can also increase the pace (speed) until you’re walking 30-60 minutes five days per week.
Another benefit of walking is; you can walk with a friend, family member, or even a group. You can also walk at the local high school track, around your neighborhood or even a wooded trail. You’ll enjoy being outside and spending social time with those you care about. All while getting in daily exercise.
Please be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Your doctor can help you determine an individualized plan that’s best for you.