We all know a friend with an active retirement lifestyle. Daily walks might be part of their routine, along with an occasional round of golf or a weekly game of Pickle Ball. But for others, especially those recovering from a recent fall, life can be a little less active. Thankfully, there are attainable ways to gradually increase your flexibility and strength. With a little commitment, and a focus on incremental steps, most seniors can get back to a healthier and more active routine.
Of course, initiating a discussion with your doctor about your activity goals is your first step. Discuss your plan and get input about how your healthcare team feels your body will respond. They might also connect you to therapy professionals who can help you on this journey.
So now that you have a green light, let’s set some goals! Your target might be improving balance, or being more flexible. Consider making an appointment with yourself to work toward this initial goal each day. Perhaps you decide to take a walk down the block and back before you settle in at night to watch the evening news. Or maybe even the driveway, because any first step is worthwhile! Make sure you set yourself up for an attainable victory; reaching a first goal gives you the motivation to keep working and pushing harder.
Once you have a habit of scheduling activity into your days, you’ll probably start to feel more confident in your improved strength or balance. This is a great time to add a social component to your new activity routine. Call a friend and see if they will walk at a nearby park with you. Enjoy a change of scenery, a social connection, and fit your exercise into your day. See how this is starting to snowball into a lifestyle change? When you are used to this new routine, add another simple component. Squeeze in a daily morning stretch session while you are still warm and toasty in bed, or make a commitment to stand up and stretch during commercial breaks on TV.
Now that you have made a habit of a more active routine, take a look back and reflect on your progress. Do you feel a little more limber? You might notice it when putting on your shoes in the morning. Or maybe you are experiencing better balance as you go down a few steps on the way to the mailbox. You don’t need to be running marathons just yet– these benefits you are noticing will keep coming if you stick to your plan.
The aging process takes a different path with everyone. There are some parts of that process that are out of our control. Aging joints, decreased stamina, or a fear of falling are common setbacks which cause older adults to take life a little slower. But if we make an effort to focus on a few factors within our control, we can at least feel more confident moving through our daily routines. By adopting a slow and steady approach, we can limit the effects of aging and maintain strength and balance to more fully enjoy retirement living.