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Beyond the Gym: Exploring Unconventional Exercise Methods for Longevity and Vitality While Aging

5 months ago

4662  0
Posted on Feb 15, 2024, 2 p.m.

Slogging away at the gym isn’t for everyone. Especially as you age and go through different phases with your mind and body, it’s worth it to have alternative methods of exercise to accommodate your ability level. You could have an illness or become injured You could also simply prefer unconventional exercise to the traditional gym setting. In any case, finding accommodations and alternative practices can be worthwhile as you age to reap the benefits.

How Exercise Provides Longevity and Vitality Over the Years 

The CDC recommends that older adults get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, and 60 minutes of that should also include muscle-strengthening activities. It’s also recommended to incorporate exercises that incorporate balance, as older adults are more prone to falls. Many will interpret this guideline in a more traditional capacity — whether that be running or lifting weights at the gym. However, there are even some unconventional exercises that can allow you to reach this level of physical activity each week.

The CDC recognizes that many older adults live with chronic conditions or experience intermittent health issues throughout the years. Consult your physician before changing physical activity.

Predicting Future Health

In any case, regular activity can increase your vitality and predict future health. For example, walking can predict fractures in older adults, with distance limitations sometimes indicating bone density issues. With regular walks, you can not only increase your fitness but keep tabs on your health. If you find yourself unable to walk as far as you typically could, it can tip you off that you may need to get your bones checked by the doctor for conditions like osteoporosis.

Older adults can also feel low on energy for a variety of reasons. Finding the cause of low energy levels can get you back on track to feeling better, more motivated, and equipped to handle daily tasks. Physical issues, stress, and psychological conditions can cause low energy and fatigue. Regular exercise can give you insight into whether or not the fatigue is related to physical activity and requires further investigation by a doctor.

Preventing Health Issues 

Physical activity can increase vitality and combat fatigue by:

  • Improving heart and lung function, boosting your metabolism;
  • Improving muscle strength and efficiency, allowing you to handle tasks with more ease;
  • Improving balance, reducing the risk of falls and injuries;
  • Keeping your muscles and joints flexible through stretching.

If performed regularly and effectively, physical activity in older adults is directly correlated to improvements in:

  • Mental health;
  • Emotional health;
  • Social well-being;
  • Cognitive function;
  • Lean body mass;
  • Physical performance;
  • Ability to perform daily tasks.

As you age, you experience natural decreases in mental acuity and physical ability. All of these systems are interconnected and exercising can provide a multi-faceted approach to holistic well-being for older adults. Even if going to the gym isn’t an option, you can get creative with your physical fitness.

Why Unconventional Physical Activity Is Beneficial 

Regardless of age, you are more likely to exercise if you do something you enjoy. The rewards you get from something personally meaningful can keep you coming back for more every day to improve your health. For older adults, in particular, unconventional physical activity can give you more options to stay active. Activities beyond the gym can offer you more social interaction, bonding time with grandchildren, and adaptive exercises to suit your physical skill level. The following are some ideas to consider when looking for alternative fitness.

Create a Customized Home Gym

Instead of using a traditional gym, you can create a personalized gym in the comfort of your own home. This way, you can still exercise if you cannot drive to a gym. Further, you can customize the gym equipment to match your needs and the decor to match your taste. Anything that motivates you to work out more often is beneficial.

Look for places in your home that could be converted into a home gym. Garages make good home gyms because they are typically only used for parking and storage. Especially if you don’t require a vehicle anymore, a gym conversion can be a great way to utilize the space. Just make sure to enlist some help getting it prepared with insulation, lighting, organization, and fitness equipment that matches your needs.

You don’t have to buy everything that goes into a traditional gym. Instead, pick out equipment that is suited to your specific fitness goals. Suggestions include rowing machines, stability balls, and ellipticals. Whatever space and equipment you choose, you can make it your own and work out in the privacy of your own home.

Get Outdoors

Even the CDC recognizes many outdoor activities as contributing to the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. Some ideas to get outside and enjoy nature include:

  • Swimming;
  • Gardening;
  • Mowing the lawn;
  • Bike riding;
  • Boating;
  • Fishing;
  • Walking;
  • Hiking;
  • Bird-watching;
  • Sports.

Just make sure that whatever outdoor activity you choose is suited to your skill level. If you are hiking or doing a solo activity, it might be wise to bring along a friend or share your location with a trusted party.

Get Up and Dance

Dancing is just one example of creative hobbies that also happen to contribute to your physical fitness. Creative outlets are good for your mental health as well as your physical well-being. Whether you enjoy ballroom or hip-hop, it’s possible to find classes that go along with your skill level and interest. You can even dance in your living room with virtual or online courses.

Practice a Mind-Body Connection 

Mind-body practices are part of a holistic healthcare routine and can be a nice, low-impact way to fit in some physical activity. Consider acupuncture, meditation, breathwork, tai chi, and yoga to tap into your mental wellness while being mindful of your body and how it serves you.

This article was written for WHN by Charlie Fletcher who is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and her search for the truth. You can find more of her writing on Contently.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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