As we become older, focusing on our health and fitness becomes even more important. Not only can we add years to our lives but we can also improve the quality of our lives.
Understandably, physical activity may seem daunting and challenging, especially if you have reduced mobility or a range of conditions such as arthritis.
The benefits of keeping physically active are so huge, that it is important to focus on what you can do, rather than what you find challenging, and to consider ways to bring physical activity into your life.
The benefits of incorporating more physical activity in your day include;
-Improving your physical strength levels
-Keep off excess weight which in turn can support joint health and make movement feel lighter and easier, whilst avoiding pain and reduce damage and inflammation.
-Keeping physically active can also boost immunity health.
-Avoid falls with improved balance and mobility.
-Being active also keeps brain function well.
-Improve the condition of your heart health
-Exercise can support positive mental well-being.
-Many more benefits!
In the end of the day, you’ll have your own personal reasons and motivations for staying fit and healthy.
If increasing physical activity levels is something that you’d like to bring more of into your life, here are some of my Personal Trainer tips to get you started.
1. Start Small and Slowly – small actions will support you as you develop a new routine. Start by putting 20- 30 minutes aside for activity each day. This activity should be something that you feel comfortable partaking in; maybe a gentle walk with a family member, light swim or resistance training using light weights.
Remember, if you’re a wheelchair user there are a range of exercises which are cardio and strength based and also stretches or chair based exercises. Start with smaller duration sessions and lighter weights and build up week by week.
There is no need to be a member of the gym and you can do simple exercises from the comfort of your own home.
Quick word of caution; doing too much too soon can be dangerous, physically and mentally exhausting and may stop you in your tracks by demotivating you and reducing your confidence.
2. Find Community. Check your local leisure centre for classes or bring your friend along for a walk in the park. It’s simply more fun to be with a loved one who has similar goals and motivations as you. You can both support each other and share tips and ideas. Remember that any activity you pursue should be enjoyable so consider other ways you can bring more pleasure to the activity you choose to pursue.
3. Aim To Be Consistent. Make health and fitness part of your lifestyle. It will get easier. You’ll soon start to enjoy the fruits of your labours as the more you move, the more you'll feel you're capable of doing! Move in ways that feel natural and safe to you, and this will encourage you to keep turning up on the chair for exercise or the mat, to the park or to the pool. Also, as mentioned in point 2, do an activity which sits well with you and isn’t too much of a chore!
4. Simple Stretches. Warm Up Before Activity & Cool Down After, Stretching should feel great and are a great way to start your health journey. They are great to include in their own right and should be performed before exercising with a gentle warm up and a cool down and stretching is advised after physical activity.
Often a number of stretches will feel intuitive though you may need a helping hand to find some useful stretches. Look up stretches online or order a suitable book. Follow along stretch videos can be found online are also a great place to start.
Stretches can be done seated and in a wheelchair – even on your bed or whilst on the sofa in front of the tele. You can always use support by holding on something secure when stretching whilst standing up. Maybe consider practicing Yoga?
5. If You Feel Any Discomfort, Stop and Rest. Do not put excess pressure on any parts of your body which are feeling stressed or with a pain or an ache. Seek advice if you are not sure how to proceed. There is almost always something you can do to work towards better health though if in doubt its best to steer on the side of caution.
6. Stay Hydrated. This is a straightforward tip, but the days are getting warmer and it’s a good reminder to fill that re-usable bottle before you head of for that walk. Staying hydrated personally makes me feel more energetic and more supple when stretching.
Don’t let mobility issues hold you back. Start today, with small actions to improving your health and fitness. Seek advice when needed by your GP or Fitness Practitioner.