Regular exercise is part of a good health and wellness lifestyle at every age and stage of life (a recommended 150 minutes per week), but for women 65 and over, it’s especially important to keep up with physical activity.
There are many benefits specific to your needs when you continue to work out into your senior years. You’re likely to stay mentally sharper and able to live independently for longer, your energy levels will be higher, and you’ll boost your mood. You can even prevent or lessen the symptoms of common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Getting exercise is also a great way to stay connected to your community, enjoy the outdoors, and even build new skills. Frederick offers lots of resources for trails, classes, and programs, so you can find something you’ll enjoy.
What exercises are best?
The best exercise you can do is the one you’ll keep doing. Healthy movement should bring you joy and a feeling of accomplishment, not feel like a punishment.
That said, different kinds of physical activity help you in different ways. The main thing you should avoid is anything too high intensity, like heavy lifting or long-distance running. Stick with gentler forms of exercise that are kind to your joints and have less risk for injury.
Taking a walk is one of the easiest and most accessible kinds of exercise. If you’re able to walk, you can easily get outside for a quick stroll or a longer hike. Frederick County Parks & Recreation maintains 23 parks full of trails, including two dog parks and the Ballenger Creek Trail, which is 4.2 miles long, ADA-compliant, and links many local attractions. You can also search the City of Frederick Parks & Recreation Department’s park directory for walking trails.
Want a challenge with rewards? Wegman’s Hit the Trail Passport program has partnered with LiveWell Frederick to offer gifts and raffles for those who explore Frederick’s trails.
Water aerobics, aqua fitness, and swimming
Working out in the water is gentle on your body, provides a great cardio workout, feels great in hot weather, and let’s be honest—it’s just as much fun as when you were a kid. The City of Frederick has two pools available in warm weather.
If you’re looking for classes, the YMCA of Frederick County has a long list of instructor-led and self-led aquatic fitness activities.
Yoga and stretching
The great thing about yoga is that it’s slow, deliberate, and easy to adjust to your level. It also includes a lot of stretching. People often treat stretching as just a warmup or cooldown, but it’s an important workout on its own. If it’s hard to get out, you can find good, short yoga and stretching videos online. And if your mobility is limited, chair yoga is an excellent way to get exercise.
The YMCA of Frederick County has a Hatha Yoga class as part of its Active Older Adults programming. LiveWell Frederick’s partner Frederick Health offers senior-focused yoga classes at its ProMotion Fitness center. There are also many private yoga studios in and around Frederick. Prefer to stay virtual? The Frederick County Senior Services Division has inexpensive online yoga and stretch classes available.
Weight and strength training
For senior women, the key to keeping up with resistance or strength training is to go light. Use simple bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, or small weights to keep your muscles primed without risking injury. Strength training is important for keeping osteoporosis at bay, so try to do a little every week.
You can do these exercises at home with a few inexpensive pieces of equipment or a chair and a mat, but make sure you’ve learned the correct form for each exercise to keep from hurting yourself. Consider starting with strength or Pilates classes at your gym or the YMCA, or through the county’s Parks & Recreation department.
Of the martial arts, Tai Chi is perhaps the best for women 65+, focusing on slow movements and breathing. It also includes stretching and is wonderful for improving balance, giving you a mental workout, relieving stress, and even offering some relief from symptoms of chronic illness.
Where should you start?
If you haven’t been physically active for a while, start simple—just a daily walk or a few stretches, and don’t push yourself too hard. Ask friends and family to become workout buddies. Look at upcoming classes within the community and pick just one that sounds fun. Check with your doctor to see if there’s anything you should avoid.
If you’ve stayed active this whole time, pat yourself on the back. Now is a great time to take stock of what you’re doing and ask yourself a few questions—are your workouts too intense? Are they still fun? Do you need something new to shake things up? Treat yourself to something different, so exercising stays fresh and interesting.
Whatever you do, enjoy it—a healthy spirit is just as important as a healthy body.