Physical Activity Remains Important as We Shelter in Place
Keeping active is an essential component to aging well, but many of us look for any excuse not to exercise. Some are using the current COVID-19 pandemic as one such excuse. “My gym is closed.” “I can’t go outside to run, walk or bike.” “My yoga class has been cancelled.” But staying active during this time is critical, not only for helping to build your immune system against the virus, but for your long-term health and well-being.
Inactivity “epidemic” among America’s seniors
Physical inactivity is rampant among seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 31 million adults age 50 or older are inactive. And while chronic medical conditions and physical disability pose challenges to many older Americans, nearly everyone can remain active as they age. The older you get, the more important exercise becomes. Gerontologists tell us that seniors of every age can benefit from an appropriate exercise program, no matter what their condition. Older people need to exercise more than their younger counterparts because they are at greater risk for the diseases that exercise can prevent, which include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, among others. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise protects the body against chronic diseases, improves mood and lowers your chance of injury. Here are some ways you can remain physically active during this pandemic.
While we are told to “shelter in place,” going outside to walk the dog, go on a bike ride or jog around the neighborhood is fine, as long as you practice physical distancing. For extra protection, wear a mask. Getting outdoors may also boost your mood, as being out in nature has been shown to elevate a sense of well-being. You can also get a little vitamin D from the sun while you’re at it!
Watch an exercise video
Type “exercise video” into your favorite search engine and you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of choices for all fitness levels. Or, pop in that old tai chi DVD that’s been sitting in your junk drawer unused for 10 years. The TV airwaves are also full of companies offering you the opportunity to download their exercise app for free if you’re one of the first 10,000 people to text them (hint: you don’t really have to be one of the first 10,000 people to get the free app).
Create your own gym
If you’re a bit more serious, there are hundreds of companies that offer indoor workout equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines and stationary bikes. This makes “going to the gym” a lot easier and a lot safer as well!
But, as with many things in life, finding the motivation to actually do the work is what keeps many of us from actually exercising. Here are some tips to get you moving:
Put exercise on your daily “to do” list
Make physical activity a required part of your day. Whether you’re retired and can spend the day almost any way you want, or are working from home while taking care of the kids or grandkids, schedule a specific time when you will stop and move your body. Having exercise as a requisite part of your day will help you stick to a healthy routine.
Your electronic devices – whether it’s your computer, smartphone or TV – are major distractions, particularly now, when it seems like there’s something new going on every minute. Turn you devices off unless you specifically need to use them.
Be prepared for resistance
The temptation to delay exercise can be overwhelming. Getting started in never easy, especially when you’re sitting comfortably in front of the TV or computer. Make the commitment and know that you’ll feel better – both immediately and down the road – for investing in your future health.