It is a new year and time to get moving! More and more older adults are emphasizing fitness and fitness trends are always changing, especially as we age. The benefits of exercise are known to help boost our immune system, improve mental health, maintain weight, prevent disease, and improve overall quality of life so it is especially important that seniors do not live a sedentary lifestyle. Other things to consider is what type of physical activity is not only senior-friendly, but what works best for your body. Are your bones strong enough for high impact exercises such running and jumping? How is your balance to ensure bike rides are fall-free? Before starting any fitness routine, it is important to check with your doctor as well as start slowly and advance the exercise program gradually.
With the availability of online technology, it has become easier to have access to fitness programs as well how to perform the right exercises for your age correctly. Smartphone apps with fitness trackers, wearable technology such as smartwatches have made it more fun and easier to track results as well as monitor everything from how many steps you have taken and monitor your heart rate. Walking clubs are also a great option for seniors as it combines socialization with exercise.
Here are a few senior friendly physical activities to try this year:
Yoga is known as one of the most popular forms of exercise for seniors as it provides both physical and mental health benefits. Yoga can help relieve stress, alleviate aches and pains associated with arthritis, lower blood pressure, increase flexibility as well as enhance balance, strength, and mobility. As we age, our bones can become weak due to the onset of Osteoporosis, so it is especially important for seniors to build and maintain strong bones. Chair yoga is a great way for older adults to get the wonderful health benefits of yoga. Staying seated means that even frail seniors or those who are not flexible can safely do the exercises.
Swimming is known as the world’s perfect exercise for all ages! It is especially great for seniors as it is considered a low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise. There is no pressure on the knees, back, hips or other joints. In fact, the water supports your body which relieves regular strain on your joints. Swimming works all major muscle groups, resulting in stronger muscles overall, especially the upper body, core muscles, and leg muscles which are all important muscle groups stability, and can help reduce the risk of falls. If you are not in to swimming you can stay in the shallow end of the pool and benefit from water aerobics. Water aerobics is an aquatic exercise that is a form of strength training. Aerobic exercises in a pool can improve endurance and balance but they can also help with creating resistance. Moving the arms and legs in the water, against resistance, is a good way to build or maintain muscle without having to use heavy weights.
Resistance Band Workouts are great for physical activity at home. Resistance bands can help you challenge your muscles in ways without having to lift heavy weights which can be dangerous for seniors. This type of exercise helps prevent muscle deterioration, also known as sarcopenia. According to Web M.D., sarcopenia typically happens faster around the age of 75. But it may also speed up as early as 65 or as late as 80. The best way to treat this disorder is by strength training to increase muscle mass. Resistance bands provide a low risk of injury, while also creating just the right amount of resistance to maintain and grow muscles.
Stretching can increase circulation, muscle control, and improve balance and coordination which all are great for seniors to reduce the risk of falling. As we age, our range of motion deteriorates, and our muscles and joints lose their strength. For this reason, it can be extremely challenging for older adults to maintain their mobility. Stretching and improved physical health supports aging in place as it helps preserve wellbeing which contributes to independence as you get older.
Walking is the easiest and most convenient physical activity of all. If you cannot find the time to perform a more structured workout or go to a fitness center, you most likely will have time to go for a walk. Walking can be performed at low to moderate intensity, it has a low risk of injury and it is easy on your joints. One of the biggest benefits to walking for seniors is cardiovascular health. Not only does cardio strengthen your heart and lungs, but it also gives you more energy, sharpens your mind, helps with managing weight, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and keeps you feeling young and lively.