People are living longer, fuller lives than in centuries past. Currently, the average life expectancy for females aged 65 in the United States is 86. Staying active will help make the last decades of your life as good as the first. The following 10 ideas are great workout tips for Grandmas. You’re never too old to be active.
1. Do what you like
If you dread lifting weights at the gym, or walking endlessly on a treadmill — don’t. Find ways to exercise that make you happy. My mom is in her 60’s and loves to dance. Attending a dance-based fitness class is something she enjoys.
2. Keep loose
As people age, their joints tend to stiffen. As part of your exercise routine, include light stretching. Yoga, tai chi and Pilates are also good for increasing flexibility. If you have stiff joints in certain places, like your hips, learning specific stretches for those areas is helpful. A doctor or physical therapist can assist if you want to improve your flexibility.
3. Adapt if needed
You may not be able to run a 6-minute mile like you used to, but you can still enjoy many activities; just adapt them for your current fitness level. Jog or walk instead of running. Choose a cruiser bike instead of a road bike, or find a masters club to join and swim.
4. Don’t count yourself out
If a new kind of exercise looks interesting to you, try it. You’re never too old to try something new. Make sure your fitness level is appropriate for the activity and take it slow as you begin.
5. Find an expert
Do you go to the gym and never stray from the elliptical trainer because you’re not sure what to do? If so, get a personal trainer to show you some exercises that will help you reach your goals and keep exercise interesting. If you attend a fitness class for the first time, be sure to tell the instructor you are new and ask questions. Some exercises, like jogging, are fairly easy. Others, like yoga, require instruction. More intense forms of exercise, like Crossfit, need supervision or injuries can occur.
6. Be aware of risks
Older people, particularly women, might have more fragile bones which are prone towards breaking. If you have a heart or breathing condition, your doctor might not want you to exercise vigorously. It’s OK to slow down or modify exercises for your level of fitness. I do it all the time as a 30-something person.
As friends pass on and children move away, life might seem lonely. Find an exercise buddy to spend time with, and you’ll reap emotional and physical benefits. At the pool where I swim, there is a group of older ladies who enjoy a deep water fitness class together. Their camaraderie is inspirational, and I know they come to class for the friendship as much as the workout.
8. Dress the part
You don’t have to spend a lot of money getting outfitted for exercise, but be sure to wear appropriate clothing, particularly footwear. Lightweight, breathable clothing will also keep you cooler as you work out.
9. Stay hydrated
Don’t forget to keep your body in optimal condition while you exercise. Older people are more susceptible to hot conditions, so hydrate well on warm days. Be sure to drink water before, during and after exercise. Consider replacing electrolytes if you’ve exercised vigorously for a long time.
The prime of your life can last as long as you want. Live life to the fullest as you age by enjoying what you do. Gardening, walking the dog, exploring a new town, and even housecleaning help keep you fit. Take dance lessons with a spouse or friend, hike a new trail to a scenic view or enjoy a daily bike ride after lunch.
There are many ways to stay active even if your body isn’t quite as young as it used to be. The next time you’re lacking motivation or courage to exercise, remember these tips and get moving.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.