A recent study showed a link between physical fitness and dementia. “Higher midlife fitness levels seem to be associated with lower hazards of developing all-cause dementia later in life,” the researchers wrote in their paper, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine.
With this in mind, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a basic level of fitness as you age. But we want you to be safe while working to achieve this! Here are a few ways to stay safe while getting fit:
- First, consider what it means for you to be fit. Not everyone is a marathoner! You have to figure out what makes you feel fit without pushing your limits. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. You may feel some muscle soreness the day after a workout, but do not push through sharp or persistent pain.
- Group exercise classes – Join an exercise group or start your own. You can even take turns choosing the activity each session. Having a small group of people to exercise with builds momentum, increases motivation for exercise and fosters friendships.
- Go on walks – Use the warm weather and sunny skies as an excuse to explore your neighborhood. Walking is one of the best ways to get your heart rate up and increase your endurance.
- Go for a swim – Take advantage of the summer weather and jump in the water the next time you are at the beach, pool, etc. Swimming is a great way to build and maintain muscle strength. It also allows your joints less force and weight-bearing due to the buoyancy of your body in the water.
- Head to the gym – You can run, walk, weight-lift, swim, bike and take group exercise classes at the gym. Visit a physical therapist or personal trainer who can work with you and tailor a routine to your specific needs. This way you can learn what exercises to perform and how to perform them safely.
- Remember, being fit doesn’t only mean exercising; it also means eating healthy meals and making healthy choices for your body so it can stay fit. Try snacking on seasonal fruits/vegetables, like strawberries this summer.
Varsha Seemangal is a doctor of physical therapy with the Rehabilitation Department at Hospital for Special Surgery.