The third post in the December Self-Care series is about staying fit. For me, the challenge of exercising is getting started. I never want to exercise, but I always feel better after. My strategy to compensate for my inertia is to include some form of physical activity into my weekly routine, that way I don’t have to think about it, I just do it.
The benefits of exercise are multi-fold. A balance of aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching helps cardiovascular health while maintaining muscle mass, balance, and flexibility. Regular exercise is not only an integral part of physical health for people aging with HIV, but exercise can also help you reduce stress, manage anger, and improve your mood. In addition, there is evidence that regular physical exercise can actually forestall the onset of non-HIV-related dementia.
Calisthenics, rapid walking, jogging, dancing, and hiking are aerobic activities. Strength training––using weights or other forms of resistance––is increasingly found to be important for building muscle mass lost with aging. Stretching is an important part of any exercise routine, and it is especially important to increase flexibility as we age. Yoga is an ancient form of exercise involving the mastery of postures that increase flexibility and strength. I recently heard one yoga instructor refer to spinal flexibility as, “the fountain of youth.”
Your exercise routine should include aerobics, strength training and stretching. Exercise does not need to be strenuous. Start slow with achievable goals and respect your limits. You may want to consider getting started with a fitness professional. Before starting an exercise program be sure to discuss it with your doctor.
Next post: Staying Connected