For most people, retirement is a time to slow down and relax, but the best way to stay healthy is to remain active. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends weekly activity for seniors, combining light aerobic activity such as walking, vigorous activity like running, strength training, and balance training. If it’s been a while since your last workout, take it slow. “Work your way up, in small increments, to a goal of 150 minutes per week of activity with two days per week of resistance activity,” suggests Steven Sanderson, MD, Catawba Valley Family Medicine – North Hickory. Gradually adding these new activities can make it easier to work them in as a part of your regular routine.
Fitness and Corrective Exercise Specialist Jennifer Cloninger, NASM, encourages activity for all ages, especially retirees. “There is an epidemic of inactivity,” she says. “We just want you to get moving.” Cloninger stresses the importance of finding movement which doesn’t aggravate existing conditions or pain. “A lot of people in their 60s and 70s have injuries or pain, so we will work around that.”
There are a variety of workout styles and facilities available near you, so shop around to find one which is right for you. Fitness Plus, located in CVMC’s Center for Rehabilitation, is open to the public and medically-trained staff, including Cloninger, are there to help you work out safely and efficiently. Injuries or limitations can be addressed with the staff and they will help you get moving in a way that is comfortable and beneficial.
Another good exercise option for retirees is the Silver Sneakers program, available in many fitness centers, including the YMCA and Fitness Plus. “Silver Sneakers is embedded in most Medicare programs, and includes group exercise and social activities,” explains Dr. Sanderson. “Also, taking a dance or yoga class to keep moving is highly recommended.”
Not everyone has access to a gym or fitness center, so Cloninger recommends some creative ways to remain active. “Get out and walk your neighborhood. Walk the dog, walk down the driveway to the mailbox. When you go to the store, park in the farthest space,” she suggests. Exercising at home using DVDs or YouTube videos is another option. “Chair-based exercises can be done at home, and cans and water bottles can be used for weights.”
Staying physically active in retirement is important for overall health and wellness. “The pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis tends to get worse with low activity levels,” says Dr. Sanderson. “Exercise helps reduce pain, anxiety, depression, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. Regular activity also improves sleep quality.”
It’s never too late to start exercising, but check with your doctor before beginning any new activities. Fitness Plus is located on the lower level of the Center for Rehabilitation, 810 Fairgrove Church Road, Hickory. For questions about programs and membership, they can be reached at 828.326.3680.