Getting regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy, and as you get older it may become more challenging to be as active as you were a couple of decades ago. Fortunately, there are a variety of exercise options for people of any fitness, mobility level or age.
Regular exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your flexibility and balance, protect your bones, encourage good cardiovascular health, and even promote better sleep. Before starting any exercise program, it is important to talk with your doctor about which types of exercise are best for you. Below are some options you may choose to try.
Many seniors have mobility challenges that may hinder their ability to exercise. Doing simple chair exercises for seniors can be a great starting point for those who are struggling with mobility issues or those who are not physically active to begin with but want to increase their physical activity. There are so many chair-based exercises (CBE) options to choose from. If you don’t know where to start, try bicep curls, shoulder presses, or knee-to-chest exercises.
Walking is one of the most popular forms of physical activity for seniors. While some people choose to walk so fast that they are almost running, you don’t have to keep up that pace to benefit from a walking program. Most people can participate in a walking program at some level, even at a slow or moderate pace.
Walking is more economical than most other forms of physical activity. The only equipment you need for walking is a good pair of shoes and the fresh air supplied by the great outdoors, unless you decide to purchase a treadmill to use on days when the weather is cold or rainy.
The American Heart Association College of Sports Medicine Standards call for able-bodied adults to walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day five days a week to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. If you are not comfortable with that much walking, start out with just a few minutes a day and work your way up to a longer period of time.
Yoga is a great option for seniors because it is a low-impact type of exercise that improves flexibility, balance, and mobility in older people, according to a study by the Gerontological Society of America. Yoga helps you build muscle strength without all of the bouncing around that higher-impact exercise may cause, so it is easy on your joints.
Engaging in breathing exercises can help you relax and reduce stress. There are several techniques for breathing exercises. A great one to start with is belly breathing. Sit or lie on your back and breathe in through your nose with your hands on your abdomen. As you inhale through your nose, let your breath cause your hands to move as your belly expands. As you exhale through your mouth, your hands will move back toward your belly. Do this slowly for up to 10 times.
As we age, it can be a challenge to squat down, which may make things such as getting on or off the couch, using the restroom, and picking things up off the floor very difficult. Doing squats may be one of the most important exercises for seniors because they can strengthen your lower body and make it easier to get up and down.
When doing a squat, make sure you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and push your hips back. This forces your thigh muscles to take on most of the work while protecting your knees. Straighten your back and lower yourself down into a sitting position while keeping your knees in line with your feet, then return to a standing position.
Weight Bearing Exercises
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundationyour lifestyle, weight-bearing exercises help keep your bones strong and may help prevent osteoporosis. There are both high-impact and low-impact types of weight-bearing exercises, and if you have osteoporosis or if you have broken any bones, you might want to avoid the high-impact exercises, such running, dancing, or jumping rope. Some great low-impact, weight-bearing exercises include:
● Using an elliptical trainer
● Low-impact aerobics
● Using a stair-step machine
● Walking briskly outside or on a treadmill
Regular exercise may aid in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, and hypertension.
As you can see, staying fit is crucial to having a great quality of life as you get older, so if you have been thinking about starting an exercise plan, don’t wait. Talk to your doctor to determine which fitness options are best for you, and then get to work. You don’t have to run a marathon, unless you want to, of course. You just need to choose options that fit your lifestyle, abilities, fitness level, and interests. And most of all, choose activities that you enjoy.