formats

Weight loss is just one benefit of exercise

Q:  I have gained weight since I retired. No matter what suggested changes I have made in my diet the excess pounds just won’t come off. I realize exercise may be the key to weight loss. Are there any exercises that are geared to an older adult who hasn’t been active for awhile?

A: The first step is to have a discussion with your primary physician to rule out any medical concerns related to starting a new exercise routine. Once you have been given the go-ahead try not to look at this as strictly a means to losing weight. Exercising tends to lower blood pressure, helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, improves sleep patterns, provides some protection against adult-onset diabetes and osteoporosis. The positive aspects of exercise also go beyond the impact it has on a person’s physical well-being. It can ease tension, reduce stress, raise energy levels, and help someone look and feel younger.

Walking tends to be one of the easiest and best all-around exercises. It can be done almost any time or anywhere, it has the lowest rate of exercise-related injury, you don’t have to buy expensive equipment or join a gym. The only recommended investment is to purchase a comfortable, well-constructed pair of walking shoes. In consideration that you have not been active recently start slowly, even 10 minutes at a time will be helpful. The goal is to start with short distances and eventually build up your endurance to walk further. Find out if any parks in the area have walking paths, avoid areas with uneven surfaces. Many of the local malls allow people to walk the aisles in the morning, the temperature is controlled and there will be fewer hazards.

Another ideal consideration is exercising in a pool. The water relieves pressure on joints whether you are just walking laps or swimming. Find out if the local Y’s have programs specifically geared for older adults. Modest weight lifting is also beneficial, it can be as simple as using soup cans for bicep curls.

Motivation may be a stumbling block. Find a friend who can help you stay on track by exercising with you and make this a real commitment.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services.