As we get older, the body’s bone density declines by 1.9% every year, making us more susceptible to fractures or breaks. The bones also gradually lose the natural minerals and calcium that keeps them strong and healthy. This happens as we head into our 60s and 70s, and more so in women than in men. This is why it is important to look after our bodies and do the right kind of exercise to support the bones through these changes. It will also help you to improve your fitness levels, so you can enjoy being active for longer.
In addition to the bones losing density as we age, the joints between them are also affected. The joints have a gel-like cushion that rubs down and wears away and the fluid in the joints themselves also decrease over time. This is what makes us less flexible as we get older and can cause a feeling of stiffness with walking and other movements. We can’t reverse the natural progression of time, but what we can do is get plenty of exercise to help improve our overall fitness and strength. In turn, this will improve the feelings of stiffness in our limbs.
In order to cause our bones and joints as little stress as possible, you should opt for cardiovascular exercise that is fairly low impact. Don’t start out with running, which can be stressful for the knees and ankles. Instead, do a brisk 30-minute walk every day – if you are living on a retirement budget, it is the least expensive form of exercise there is. Swimming and water aerobics are also both excellent forms of exercise that are gentle on the bones and joints. They use the water’s natural buoyancy to support the body. Other good options are ballroom or line dancing, going for a bike ride and yoga or pilates.
Some lightweight and resistance training can help to build up your muscles, making it easier to support your joints and bones. You could join a local gym, or invest in weight machines at home. If you are living on a budget however, there are plenty of activities that you can do every day to help build up your muscles too. These include lifting groceries, heavy gardening like digging, going up and down the stairs, or even pushing a lawn mower around your garden.
Regularly exercising when you get older can help to protect your fragile bones. You will feel healthier, happier and have move easier with greater flexibility.