We can’t all be Harriette Thompson, the three-time cancer survivor who, at age 92 in May 2015, became the oldest woman to complete a marathon. You might be thinking, “Wait—isn’t a marathon 26.2 miles?” That’s right, and she set a record by running the race more than two hours faster than the previous record-holder.
While Ms. Thompson might be an extreme example of active senior living, her accomplishment is indicative of a national trend—American seniors are remaining more active and fit longer, and some are pushing the boundaries of activity demonstrated by their peers of a generation ago.
Starting an exercise routine
Whether you reside in a retirement home, independent living, assisted living or a personal care home, you can develop new fitness habits now. Your payoffs will be better health, more energy and improved mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercise—even if begun later in life—provides vital health benefits.
So, how to begin? Getting started is often the most challenging part of developing any new routine. First, talk with your physician about your intentions and learn which exercises would be best for you.
AARP offers guidelines for your new workout plan: start slowly and gradually increase the intensity; wear comfortable, supportive shoes; wear a pedometer as an incentive to keep moving and fit exercise into your daily routine.
Finding the fitness program that fits you best
Cardiovascular exercises that might interest you are walking, hiking, jogging, dancing, swimming, water aerobics, biking, tennis or golf. Options for balance training are stretching, yoga, pilates or tai chi. For muscle strengthening, consider using elastic resistance bands, light weights or dumbbells, or weight machines.
AARP also suggests that you might find exercise more enjoyable if you work out with a friend and if you vary your exercise—in other words, don’t repeat the very same activity every day.
Though some seniors prefer to join a fitness center for the social aspect and for the variety of machines, you don’t have to join a gym. You can do a lot of exercise in the privacy and comfort of your own home or within the wide range of senior living environments. The CDC says that among adults who are 65 and older, walking, gardening and other yard work are among the most popular forms of exercise. One easy way to get regular walking exercise is to park at the outer edge of parking lots.
If you live in a Country Meadows senior living community, you don’t have to look far for a fitness program that’s right for you. Each Country Meadows retirement home community has a fitness program for residents, led by a qualified fitness director.