Exercise: The Antidote to Aging

Couple stretching on the floor

“Exercise is an antidote to aging,” says Barry A. Franklin, PhD, director of the cardiac rehabilitation and exercise labs at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. A well-rounded routine, as part of a healthy lifestyle, may help you avoid things like falls, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Experts say many of the conditions people think are due to getting older have more to do with not moving enough. At any age, these are the types of exercise you want to get: 

woman on a treadmill

Aerobic: good for your heart and lungs. It’s also good for your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep, and memory. What to do: You can walk briskly, walk in the water, or do any other activity that gets your heart rate up. Tip: A Fitbit or Apple watch can help you track your steps and set goals. Challenge yourself to do a little more each week. 

Strength training/Resistance training: This isn’t about becoming a body builder or professional weightlifter. Strength training can help you stay as independent as you want. Do it to keep your muscles and bones strong and help prevent falls and fractures. It can make things like getting around easier. Strength training is just as important as aerobics, Franklin says. It’s the principle of “use it or lose it.” What to do: Start with 2-pound hand weights or resistance stretch bands. 

Flexibility and balance: helps prevent falls by stretching your muscles and keep them from stiffening up. What to do: Yoga stretch and water aerobics are good for both. You can also learn balance exercises in the chair yoga classes. You don’t need to go anywhere to do these or schedule a special time. Fit balance exercises into your daily routine. “You can do exercises like balancing on one foot almost anywhere — while you’re brushing your teeth or doing dishes,” Rogers says. Tip: It helps to have something like a counter to grab onto if you need it. 

How to Keep It Safe: Although exercise is great for you, it’s possible to overdo it. You’re working too hard if you exercise to the point of exhaustion or pain (not just tired legs or soreness). Tip: To stay hydrated while exercising, bring your water bottle. 

Whatever you do, start at a medium pace, where you move a little bit but can still hold a conversation. Aim for 30 minutes a day and build up to that, even if you need to start with just 5 minutes at a time. The risks of exercising are far less than those of sitting on a couch,” says Michael E. Rogers, PhD. director of the Center for Physical Activity and Aging at Wichita State University in Kansas. 

Get involved with one or more of the many exercise classes offered at Kirby Pines. And if you’re unsure about how to use our equipment in the Oasis, see Kim Roberts on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:00 am. She is there to help.