By Rosanne Angel, Director of Sales and Marketing
Recently, I asked Douglas, a 101-year-old Aldersly resident who walks without a cane or other mobility aid, what his “secret” is for staying so mobile. He immediately responded with one word: “Exercise!” Douglas starts his day doing floor exercises—giving him the boost he needs to get up and get going every day.
It’s inspiring to see how Douglas proactively works to maintain mobility. Often, when people experience the normal minor stiffness that comes with aging, exercising may not seem like the natural thing to do. But it very well should be. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity is good for you, no matter what your age.
You don’t have to run a marathon or a 5K. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym. Instead, the goal is to move more now…so your body keeps moving in the future.
It helps to understand the chain of events that takes place in your body during physical or aerobic exercise. You breathe faster and more deeply—maximizing the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart beats faster—increasing blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. Even though you might not notice it, your body even releases endorphins—natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being. When you exercise, all of these factors combine to make your body work better.
In fact, here are a few ways Mayo Clinic suggests that staying fit can enhance your mobility:
- Helps you stay active and independent. Aerobic exercise keeps your muscles strong, which can help you maintain mobility as you get older. Exercise can also lower the risk of falls and injuries from falls—preserving your quality of life.
- Increases stamina, fitness, and strength. You may feel tired when first starting regular exercise. But over the long term, you’ll enjoy increased stamina and reduced fatigue. You can also gain increased bone and muscle strength.
- Helps to ward off viral illnesses. Exercise activates your immune system, which helps make you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu.
- Reduces other health risks. Exercise also reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and stroke. Plus, weight-bearing aerobic exercises, such as walking, help decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Quite simply, exercise helps to keep you stronger and healthier—which in turn maintains and even enhances your mobility. Clearly, these are powerful reasons to stay in shape. But it’s still hard to get motivated to exercise on a regular basis.
How to put your exercise program into motion.
If you’ve been inactive for a long time, or if you have a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. When you’re ready to begin, start slowly. It could be as simple as walking five minutes in the morning and five minutes after dinner. After a few days, add minutes and pick up the pace. As your stamina builds, so will the health benefits.
How to stay motivated.
It’s easier to maintain momentum if you participate in fitness activities with others on your same fitness journey. Community centers and health clubs offer exercise classes. Residents of Aldersly Life Plan Community also enjoy the many exercise opportunities as part of our wellness program, including fitness classes, bocce ball, yoga and more.
Enjoy your surroundings.
Whether it’s a walk around the block or a walk around the park, getting your steps in is a great way to exercise. Many people make “walkability” a consideration when choosing where to live. For instance, walking is a very popular activity at Aldersly thanks to our central location in San Rafael—within easy walking distance of Montecito Plaza, downtown San Rafael, the farmers market, shops, cafés, and more.