No matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated, regular exercise is especially important as you become older. That’s because seniors who live physically active lifestyles will have far more health perks and better quality of life than seniors who become more sedentary with age.
Before we get into the best exercise for seniors, let’s review the advantages you will gain by regularly practicing physical fitness:
- Better balance: Every 11 seconds an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury and every 19 minutes a senior dies from a fall. Exercise helps prevent the likelihood of falling by 23% as it helps improves better balance as you age.
- Increases energy levels: Have you noticed that the more you sit the less energy you have? That’s because physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, helping alleviate stress, promotes better sleep, and makes you feel lively, energetic with a greater sense of well-being.
- Improves brain function: Your mind and bodywork together in sync. If your body is healthy, likely your mind feels the same way. Research has shown that seniors who exercise regularly have improved cognitive health and increased activity may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Maintains independence: Few of us want to be dependent on others as we age. One way to avoid this is to exercise. Making exercise a daily habit promotes older adults’ ability to walk, bathe, dress, cook, eat and use the restroom independently without help from others.
Best exercises keeping seniors healthy and fit
Now that you know why and how becoming more physically active is particularly crucial with each passing year, you may wonder, “How do I get started and what are the best exercises for older adults who are not as flexible or physically fit?” If you suffer from chronic arthritis or other debilitating medical conditions that are caused by reduced flexibility or range of motion, it can be difficult to know what types of exercise fits your needs.
First, if it’s been a while since you’ve exercised regularly, always check with your primary care physician before undertaking this new venture. It’s important to have your fitness level assessed and then decide what forms of exercise you can do without injuring yourself and that fits your physical capabilities and lifestyle.
Once you’ve been cleared to start exercising, here are the best exercises for seniors to consider:
Exercising in water is fun, refreshing, and ideal for any senior with arthritis or other forms of joint pain that may prevent walking, lifting weights, or playing tennis. The buoyancy of water puts less strain on joints while providing natural resistance acting as a form of strength training. Water aerobics also improves your strength, flexibility, and balance with minimal stress on your body. Many fitness centers offer water aerobics classes that include exercises such as aqua jogging, flutter kicking, leg lifts, standing water push-ups, and arm curls, getting you in improved shape quickly.
Here is a perfect low-impact form of exercise helping improve while maintaining muscle strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility. Seated in a chair with no standing or getting up and down from the floor required, reduces less stress on joints, muscles, and aching feet and bones, than conventional yoga. It’s also been noted that chair yoga is good for mental wellness, better quality sleep, lower instances of depression, and an improved sense of well-being.
Resistance band workouts
If resistance bands are new to you, you’re in for a nice surprise on how effective they are for strengthening your core, improving posture, mobility, and balance. These stretchy strips of rubber help add resistance to workouts without overloading stress on joints and muscles. Users of resistance bands find them user-friendly, accessible, and inexpensive.
This is the ultimate accessible and free form of exercise available to anyone. Depending on your current level of fitness, you decide how far, where, and at what pace your body can handle. Some seniors may do hiking in rough terrain while others are happy to take a more leisurely walk on a level walking trail. Walking not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, but also helps strengthen muscles, burns calories, and lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer.
Dumbbell strength training
Maintaining muscle mass with age is vital. Strength training with dumbbells weighing anywhere from one pound or higher has been shown to alleviate symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, and even depression. Dumbbell workouts allow seniors to isolate muscle groups to strengthen while improving balance and flexibility. Find and join a strength training fitness class to know how to lift properly to avoid any injury.