Exercise as we age: Tips to get moving at any fitness level

You’ve heard the message loud and clear: As you age, choosing a fitness routine that works for your body is more important than ever. I’ve created Vibrante Voyagers, a Facebook community where we can encourage each other – near and far – to break out of our comfort zone and try fun new activities, which could include anything from a walk around the lake to exploring a nature sanctuary.

Join us to share your goals and achievements, and to learn from others who are navigating fitness during this stage of life. The good news is anything counts, as long as you get moving! The potential benefits are huge: disease prevention, stronger balance and strength, and improved mental health to name a few.

I have been training for the YWCA’s Women’s Triathlon and have learned a lot along the way. Fitness is a lifelong pursuit. Being fit is just as important as learning when to push yourself and when to slow down and rest. I don’t look at the triathlon as a race as much as a gathering of like-minded women (all 1,700 of us) to share in the uplifting energy that exudes from this group. My goal is to finish the race without injury and with joy in my heart. I’ll be participating with my niece; friends and family will be cheering us on!

Today is the day to start. Take the leap. Invest in your health. The rewards will be worth it.

Make fitness something to look forward to. Start slowly. But, start nevertheless. Focus on these three areas of fitness:

●      Strength: Loss of bone mass is a concern for older women, and strength training is great for prevention. Keeping your muscles strong is also important to maintaining independence as you age. Start with light weights, or if that’s too intimidating, squatting in and out of a chair count, too! 

●      Balance: Prevent falls by focusing on balance exercises. Try a yoga class at your local senior center.

●      Flexibility: Make stretching part of your daily life. Maintain the elasticity of your joints and muscles so you don’t lose range of motion, which is important for everyday activities such as tying your shoes, reaching for something on a high shelf and driving. Also, stretching is great for your circulation!

Here are a few ideas to make exercise fun:

●      Grab a friend for a walk around the neighborhood. There’s nothing like great conversation to pass the time. Reward yourselves with coffee afterward.

●      Listen to your favorite music or an audiobook as you move.  

●      Take a brisk walk around the mall while window shopping. Yes, that counts as exercise!

●      Pursue hobbies such as bird watching or nature photography as a way to get moving.

If taking on this challenge with a group of women appeals to you, join my Vibrante Voyagers Facebook page and share the link so your friends can join us, too. This can be a group of women from all around the country supporting one another via Facebook. Wouldn’t it be fun to share your latest fitness achievement or your best tip with someone on the other side of the country? On the other side of the world? Let’s make that happen!

And if you live nearby, join Vibrante Voyagers as we explore Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary in Minneapolis. We will meet August 6 at 9 a.m. at the garden entrance. See you there!