During a mountaineering club’s orientation, Dik Arvesu was called to talk about his own experience as a member. What makes him different from the other speakers is that he’s a senior citizen and well over 60 years old—but fitter than most members half his age. “I am a triathlete,” he says, when he describes what he does. He adds that he joined the UP Mountaineers and started climbing mountains in his 50s. “Everyone should engage in physical activity and get fit. If I can do it, so can you.”
Vibrant later years
Clearly by Arvesu’s example, getting older isn’t an excuse to be sedentary and miss out on the benefits of physical activity. Quite the opposite: With age, one must actually engage more in regular exercise to boost energy and the immune system, maintain one’s independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. “It is at this stage that physical activities are of utmost importance for the senior population. Even just performing the basic range of motion of each joint will ensure that no stiffness of joints will occur,” explains Ethel Fortuno, an occupational therapist. Exercise can also reverse symptoms of aging and improve one’s overall sense of well-being. It’s the key to staying strong, energetic and healthy as you get older.
What deters most seniors from getting all these benefits is the notion that either they are too old to start a regimen, or that exercise is expensive, time-consuming, or too strenuous. Becoming active is actually just adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways, whether you are homebound, managing an illness, or a novice.
Get started on getting fit
Before embarking on any physical activity, it’s best to get medical guidance and clearance especially if you have a pre-existing health condition, or if you have previously never exercised. Aside from this, the choice of activity or exercise will also depend on your current health concerns as these could interfere or affect with certain regimens. It’s best to see what will fit your personality, interests, health status and issues so that you can continue the program until it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
Here are some guidelines if you’re above 50 years old, and embarking on your own fitness journey: