Staying fit and active is one strategy in living a longer, healthy life. While some believe seniors are “too old” to exercise, stay active and remain fit, research tells us otherwise. Some continue to run marathons, play tennis or golf even into their nineties. However, we realize these activities are not for everyone. Mobility limitations, joint stiffness, accidents and injuries sometimes make it necessary to find less intense activities. Lots of options are available. Let’s take a look at a few.
Walking regularly is a great way for seniors to get outdoors, enjoy some sunshine and maintain a healthy weight. Even 15 to 20 minutes a day at a moderate pace offers many benefits. Some include helping seniors to avoid bone mass loss, strengthen muscles, improve circulation and increase balance and stability.
While walking is a safe and effective workout for many seniors, remain aware of any balance or mobility limitations you have. If necessary, use an assistive device like a cane or walker. It is also often safer to walk with someone else so immediate help is always available. Take along a friend or family member, or ask your professional in home caregiver to spend some time walking outdoors with you for companionship and support.
Swimming and water aerobics are safe, fun exercise programs for seniors who are experiencing joint pain or stiffness. Some of the benefits of these exercises include helping seniors to build muscle, increase flexibility, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and improve heart health and lung capacity.
Getting in the water removes weight from your body by providing buoyancy that supports joints and muscles. Water also provides natural resistance, making it possible to get some of the same benefits you would from weight training but without the weights. Certainly it is important to practice water safety. If a senior is unable to swim independently, make sure that he remains in shallower water, uses appropriate floatation devices and has assistance. No one should swim alone, so it is important to always practice the buddy system.
Yoga, and especially restorative yoga, offers a wide range of benefits for seniors. A yoga practice is easy for anyone to incorporate into their daily routine. It is even possible for seniors who are confined to a wheelchair to practice yoga. Exercises are low impact and easily modified, making this a great choice for seniors who want their practice to grow and change as they see improvements.
Practicing yoga improves flexibility, balance and stability. Some medical conditions that seniors face also often improve with dedication to a yoga practice. Examples include high blood pressure, anxiety and respiratory ailments. When practiced with another person, yoga also helps seniors to feel more connected to themselves, the other individual and even their community. Since a sense of purpose is so important to maintaining a high quality of life, this is another significant benefit yoga offers.
Getting Started and Staying Motivated
To stay motivated, experts recommend mixing up your exercise routine and incorporating all these ideas. Doing this also helps seniors to engage difference muscle groups and see greater benefit from physical activity. Start slowly by exercising for even five or ten minutes a day. With time, your energy and strength will improve. When this happens, increase the amount of time you spend exercising to see further improvements.
Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and enjoy a higher quality of life. Before beginning your routine, consult with your doctor to make sure your plan is a safe one. If necessary, ask a friend, family member or professional caregiver with an agency like Salus Homecare San Gabriel Valley to provide support while you exercise. Most importantly, find something you love, and stick to it. In the long run, this is the best way to stay young, stay fit and continue to feel your very best.