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The Good Ones blog series is written by Wider Circle staff members who bring together neighbors for better health every day. Today, May 26th, is National Senior Health and Fitness Day — check out these top tips for fun and safe senior fitness from Wider Circle exercise and nutrition guru, Dulce Dagda!

Exercise. Even though we don’t always feel like doing it, it is always there to help us feel better, mentally and physically. In fact, research has shown that regular physical activity is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk for chronic disease and to improve your quality of life.

Adding even a basic fitness routine to your life can:

  1. Improve your memory and brain function. 
  2. Protect against many chronic diseases.
  3. Aid in weight management.
  4. Lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
  5. Improve your quality of sleep.
  6. Reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
  7. Improve joint pain and stiffness.
  8. Maintain muscle strength and balance.
  9. Increase life span.
  10. Offer community and companionship when done in groups.

And the good news is, you don’t need a gym in order to experience the benefits of exercise. Lincoln, a Northern California Wider Circle member ambassador, is 81 years old and walks 100 laps around his living room with his walker every afternoon while he watches his favorite TV program. He loves to share his progress with other members who need a bit of motivation during our weekly “Let’s Get Moving!” teleconferences. “I am working my way up to 200 laps per day. If I can do it, anyone can!,” Lincoln said.

Need some ideas to jump-start your fitness routine? Here are some of my favorites.

  • Exercise at least 3 times per week, for 30-60 minutes per day. You can break up your workout into smaller chunks throughout the day as well, it all counts!
  • Alternate between strength training and cardiovascular training like going for a walk, dancing, or yoga.
  • Weight training is a great way to keep your muscles in good shape and preserve bone density. 
    • Depending on your physical condition, you may need to start with ½-, 1-, or 2-pound weights or do the exercises entirely without weights. Your body needs to get used to doing strengthening exercises.
    • Keep it safe and slow. Use a light weight the first week, and then gradually add more weight. Starting the exercise program using weights that are too heavy can cause injury. Be sure to use smooth, continuous movements.
  • Invite furniture into your fitness! Grab a sturdy chair and try exercises like getting up and sitting with control, and alternating leg lifts while sitting in your chair and holding on to the sides for support. 
    • Try to do 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise. If you can’t do this many reps at first, do as many as you can. Over time, you can build up to your goal.
  • Breathe normally throughout your exercises. Try to breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth.

You can do these at home, or schedule your workouts with some neighbors for extra motivation and support.

Talk to your doctor if you are not sure if you should do a particular exercise. For example, if you have had hip or back surgery, ask him/her about the exercises that may be best for you.

Now slip on those sneakers and let’s get moving!

Ready for more “Good Ones”?

Check out: Four Food Tips to Help You Live Longer 

The information included in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. 

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Dulce Dagda joined Wider Circle in 2018.  When she is not busy organizing health and social events for her Los Angeles chapter members, she enjoys nutrition and fitness podcasting, and freelance journalism. Dulce is a NACF-certified nutrition coach, and holds a Masters in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Safety from Universidad Nebrija. You can reach her at dulce@widercircle.com