There’s nothing like stepping outside to enjoy summer’s warmth and sunshine. Now is the perfect time to get out in the great outdoors while improving your fitness and overall health. Exercise is important for everyone, no matter your age or health status. Even if you have a condition such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or arthritis, exercise can help. Exercise can improve issues such as high blood pressure, difficulty balancing, or problems walking. Physical activity can also help you avoid many diseases and disabilities that develop with age. These include heart disease, certain types of cancer and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity can boost your mood, reduce feelings of depression, improve your focus, and make you feel better overall.
Find Your Favorite Activity
Ready to get moving? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older adults get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. You should also do exercises that strengthen your muscles two or more days per week. You may be surprised to learn just how many chances there are to be active outdoors. Here are some fun summertime activities you may enjoy. Many are suitable for those with disabilities, too:
- Walking the dog or walking with friends
- Water aerobics
- Boating—canoeing, rafting, rowing, sailing, paddle boarding, or kayaking
- Gardening or yard work
- Playing with grandchildren, such as pushing them on the swings, playing hopscotch, or enjoying T-ball together
- Climbing stairs
- Outdoor tai chi
Physical activity is safe for most older adults, and you can get started right away. If you haven’t exercised in a while, have a medical condition, or recently had surgery, then it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before increasing your activity level. If you’re at risk for falls, ask your doctor if any activities pose a fall risk for you. Since you’re going to be spending more time outside, be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Keep these sun-safe tips in mind:
- Apply sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Put it on again after swimming, sweating, or wiping your skin with a towel.
- Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, ears, and back of your neck.
Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially in the heat. Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
Make It Happen
One of the best ways to stick with an exercise program is to be active with others. You could ask friends, family members, or neighbors to see if anyone wants to try an outdoor activity with you. You can also find a walking club or exercise class at a nearby senior center or your local recreation department. Above all, make it fun! When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it. Soon, you’ll be living a healthier, more active life.
Online Medical Reviewer: Pierce-Smith, Daphne, RN, MSN, CCRC