Kerry Golden, Physical Therapist
Most people tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity and forget to have a well-rounded approach to fitness. Research has shown that it’s important to get all four types of exercise—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility—on a daily basis. Each one of these exercises has different benefits.
Endurance activities, often referred to as aerobic exercise, increase your breathing and heart rate. This type of exercise may delay or prevent diseases that are related to a sedentary lifestyle such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers of the colon and breasts. Examples are:
* Brisk walking, walking uphill, or jogging
* Playing tennis or pickleball
Safety tips: Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Do a little light activity, such as easy walking, before and after your endurance activities to warm up and cool down. Listen to your body: endurance activities should not cause dizziness, chest pain, or pressure. Stay hydrated when exercising, especially in the summer months.
Quick tip: test your exercise intensity. When exercising, you should be able to still have a conversation while breathing harder.
Maintaining muscle mass as you age can make a big difference in activities of daily living. Tasks such as getting up from a chair or the floor, going up stairs, or carrying groceries require a decent level of fitness. Increased muscle strength has also been shown to help prevent falls.
Examples of strength training:
* Lifting weights
Safety tips: Don’t hold your breath. Don’t start with too heavy of weights. Pay attention to technique and posture.
Balance exercises help prevent falls. A fall later in life can have serious consequences. Balance exercises may include:
* Tai chi
* Barre exercises (ballet bar)
Safety tip: Have a sturdy chair or surface nearby to hold on to if you feel unsteady.
Stretching is the most overlooked fitness activity and probably the most important when it comes to preventing injury and improving balance. Tasks such as tying shoes, turning to look behind you, swinging a golf club, or reaching overhead all seem easier when you are more flexible.
Remember these important stretches:
* Calf or “runner’s stretch”
* Hamstring stretch
* Hip flexor stretch
* Chest/shoulder/neck stretches
Safety tips: Stretch slowly and carefully, don’t rush, hold for 20 seconds. Don’t stretch too far or bounce, listen to your body. Be patient and be consistent.
Incorporating these four exercises into your daily activities can help you:
* Stay independent
* Prevent falls
* Reduce stress and improve sleep
* Prevent diseases
* Maintain healthy weight
Kerry Golden, PT, provides outpatient physical therapy to the SaddleBrooke Community, delivered to your home.