Sponsored by Acts Retirement-Life Communities
As the weather warms up, and we put our heavy winter coats into storage, it’s easier to get outdoors for more physical activity and a little Vitamin D. We also have lots of options for exercise.
But, as the temperature rises, it’s important to stay safe and treat your body responsibly. Exercising in excessive temperatures can be dangerous, especially for older adults, so it’s essential to stay hydrated and to be sure you’re not pushing your body too hard.
Here are six safe activities to help keep you fit in the summer without getting you fatigued. Some of them even will even help you cool down!
We all know that demanding physical activity gets tougher as we age, and many of us would be happy having someone else do backbreaking work like landscaping. Light gardening, however, can be a great way to casually exercise, as long as you’re doing it safely.
Make sure you do any bending, kneeling and twisting in correct form. When bending, bend at the knees in a proper squat position, supporting your weight with your upper legs. Multiple repetitions of these squats can help build muscle, support your back and strengthen your core. Sit on a small stool to avoid injury if you have issues with your legs or knees.
If you’re digging with a large spade or shovel, bend at the knees and don’t round your back when you lift the dirt. Lifting with your legs, not with your back, will help you avoid an achy back or serious injury. Also, make sure to stand, stretch and walk around at least once every 30 minutes to an hour to keep circulation flowing.
Always keep plenty of water at hand when you’re gardening or during other physical activity. We’ll talk more about this later, but hydration is key to your health. Use a spray bottle to mist yourself with cool water if you start to feel overheated. If you have unforgiving knees, be sure to place something sturdy nearby to help support you when you’re lifting yourself off the ground.
A Dip in the Pool
Swimming is great way to keep our bodies in shape throughout the year, but it’s most fun in the summer when a dip in the pool helps keep us cool. If you don’t have a pool in your own backyard, you usually can find one at your local community center, park, or YMCA. Many vibrant retirement communities offer aquatic centers on campus. Imagine a pool that’s always available and steps away – minus the responsibility of upkeep!
Swimming is a fantastic, low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints and strengthens nearly every muscle in the body. It also can benefit cardiovascular health by strengthening your heart, lowering your blood pressure, and improving your circulation.
If you want to do more than swim laps, you can participate in water aerobics, which consists of a variety of movements, including walking and even dancing in the water. Resistance exercises in the water, such as arm curls and leg movements, can help strengthen muscles, and water relaxation exercises can help lower blood pressure and decrease stress. Water volleyball is trending in many retirement communities across the nation.
Swimming and water aerobics alone can be dangerous at any age, so go with a friend or make sure a lifeguard is on duty. Inexperienced swimmers may want to keep a flotation device near in case of muscle cramps or fatigue.
Take a walk
The advantages of taking regular walks in the fresh air are so numerous, it’s hard to argue against this aerobic exercise, especially after you’ve been cooped up all winter. This low-impact activity can improve circulation, decrease bone loss, improve you sleep, help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, support your joints, improve respiratory function – and much more. Walking also improves your balance, which is paramount as we age. Read more about the importance of maintaining muscle balance.
Make sure to carry your cell phone when you walk, should you unexpectedly become fatigued and need to call someone for a ride. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, strap on light arm or leg weights, but be careful not to overexert yourself if you’re just getting started.
Try Pilates or Yoga Outdoors
Yoga and pilates can calm your movements, decrease your stress, and help you find inner peace. What better way to experience these benefits than outside on a beautiful day? Since neither of these activities is especially aerobic, there’s less of a chance that you’ll overexert or overheat yourself.
Yoga often is based on broad muscle groups, and focuses on improving balance, flexibility, endurance, strength, and spirituality, with some physical movement. Yoga can range from gentle and peaceful to sweaty and extremely challenging, so any of us can find a style to suit our needs and ability.
Pilates is a more disciplined practice that should be done regularly to experience benefits. Pilates classes focus on flexibility, muscle toning, strength, and body control. Little cardio is involved, and the poses aren’t as complex and challenging as those in yoga. Read about why yoga is becoming very popular among older adults, and about its numerous benefits to the body, mind and spirit.
A yoga mat also will provide a level of comfort when performing pilates. And make sure to carry a hand towel to wipe away perspiration. A professional instructor can show you how to safely perform the moves.
Light Outdoor Sports or Recreation
Light outdoor sports such as bocce ball, horseshoe throwing, pickleball, and shuffleboard keep are untraditional ways to exercise that can keep your body moving and strengthen muscle tone.
Hiking, cycling and kayaking are more intense ways to exercise, and can be great for the body, as long as you don’t exceed your physical limitations. If you have any doubts, talk to your doctor before participating.
As with swimming, it’s best to participate with a partner in these sports so you can watch out for one another!
The Importance of Hydration
It’s crucial to drink water to stay hydrated during any outdoor physical activity, especially during the summer. Our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, so being hydrated helps you remain healthy and maintain proper body functions. It also helps you to think clearly, repairs your muscles, and increases your metabolism. Even if you’re taking a dip in the pool, you should keep hydrated. Here’s additional information on the importance of hydration.
Opportunities at Your Fingertips
Retirement communities can offer perfect settings for outdoor recreation and exercise. Most have outdoor sports areas with shuffleboard and bocce ball courts, horseshoe pits, and more, as well as indoor and/or outdoor pools. Walking trails offer safe and convenient ways to get in your daily walk and enjoy Mother Nature, and community gardens are typically buzzing with activity during this time of year.
You’ll always find someone to enjoy activities with you in a retirement community.
Professional staff, including certified fitness trainers, are available for support, classes, instruction and general tips on how to succeed with your exercise plans. Acts communities, for example, have wonderful programs to benefit the body, mind and spirit, so that all residents can have the chance to achieve their wellness goals.