The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older adults "move more and sit less," and even adds that "some physical activity is better than none."
This note from the CDC is important for seniors—and for anyone, really. It's easy to give up on movement goals when things get tough, you're tired or there simply doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. Many people also fall into the trap of making goals too big or feeling guilty if they don't meet their goals. That can turn into negative thinking, such as "If I can't walk that 2 miles today, I might as well do nothing."
But you don't have to walk a few miles every day or take part in all the exercise classes offered at ViewPointe assisted living center. As the CDC says, sometimes some physical activity is better than none, so here are some tips for getting little bits of movement in throughout your day.
The CDC recommends adults over the age of 65 get at least 150 minutes a week of activity that brings their heart rate up. That usually requires at least some sustained movement on your part, such as a brisk walk, but what gets your heart pumping depends on your health, activity level and personal endurance. When planning an exercise regimen to support cardiovascular and body health, do speak with your medical provider to understand the specific requirements for your situation.
But micro walks may be something you can easily integrate into your day to increase movement. These activities aren't really about getting your heart rate up—they're more about making sure you move more and sit less so that your body's muscles, joints and other features are getting some regular use.
Micro walks are simply "tiny walks." We're using the term to refer to anytime you take a few or more steps. So, the trip from the recliner in your assisted living apartment to stand in front of the window or grab some water in the kitchenette is a micro walk.
You can do this simply by taking the slightly longer way. Walk down the hall and back when you're heading to a common area near your apartment, or take a lap around the dining room before settling at a table. You can also do this in your assisted living apartment. Each time you get up to use the restroom, get a drink of water or move between seats to do something different, make a lap of your apartment to get a bit of movement in.
You can also set up specific times to walk during the day, even if you can't get an entire mile in. Try to add a short walk in the morning, at midday and in the evening. It might just be a walk down your hall and back or even a couple of laps of your assisted living apartment—remember that some is better than none. But if you can do the mile walk daily, you may want to incorporate that too.
Time can pass more quickly than you realize when you're sitting and doing something you enjoy. For many people, that might be watching movies or a favorite television show.
In the past, you could always count on commercial breaks in television content to prompt you to get up to go to the bathroom, grab a snack or just stretch your legs. But today, many people stream content or use video players to play content from discs. Most of this content doesn't have commercial breaks, so you can sit for hours at a time without realizing how long it's been.
If you're planning to spend a good chunk of the afternoon or evening enjoying TV shows or movies—or engaging in another enjoyable but sedentary activity—consider setting an alarm to remind you to move a little every 20 to 30 minutes.
You can set alarms on your smartphone or tablet to chime every 30 minutes and prompt you to get up and move. But you might also use a kitchen or microwave timer. Set it for 30 minutes and go enjoy your activity. When it goes off, you'll have to get up to turn it off and reset it.
Another option for inspiring regular small bits of movement in your assisted living apartment is to place your things in a way that requires it. You might put some items away from your bed so you have to get out of bed and walk to them to use them. If you're able and it's safe, you might put smaller items you use regularly in higher cabinets and shelves so that you have to reach above your head regularly to get them (without climbing on a stool).
Simply encouraging a regular and fuller range of motion can be important to maintaining existing function in your body.