Physical Activities : What’s Suited for Seniors
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any age, but it’s especially crucial for seniors. As we get older, our bodies change and we may become less active. This lack of activity can lead to health problems such as obesity and heart disease – both of which are major contributors to early death in seniors.
Although seniors may be less flexible than when they were younger, they can still participate in physical activities that are fun and suit their abilities. However, it is important to choose exercises that are appropriate for one’s age and abilities.
Obviously, you should consult your physician before beginning any exercise routine, but here are some ideas for seniors looking for low-impact exercises to get started:
Walking is a great aerobic exercise that seniors can do for as little as 30 minutes a day to improve heart health and manage weight. It’s also essential for seniors who may have been sedentary for too long to ease back into physical activity.
If walking seems too easy, seniors might want to increase the intensity by walking up hills and speed walking. Seniors can also find a walking buddy and create goals to keep them motivated, such as taking three walks a week for 30 minutes each.
Before heading out on a walk, consider the terrain where you’re walking. For example, if you plan to walk near your home, are there sidewalks? Are the streets flat and smooth, or rough and hilly? For those who are not seasoned walkers, or those with knee or joint problems, it may be better to start on a surface you know is flat and consistent like inside a mall, on a treadmill, or on a track at a gym or a YMCA.
The main thing is to start slow and don’t overdo it. You can always increase the intensity as you get going, but it might be harder to recover if you injure yourself when you first get started.
Swimming is an excellent choice for seniors. It’s non-weight bearing, so it’s easier on joints, and it also supports the back. There are many different pool exercises that seniors can try to gain more benefits from their time in the water.
Often, the local YMCA has exercise programs specifically for seniors, including pool exercise classes. This is a low-cost option to get started with an exercise routine while at the same time meeting other seniors in a group setting.
Gardening is a great way for seniors to enjoy being outdoors and work with their hands. Gardening can also provide seniors with an opportunity to spend time with their community, which research has shown can help seniors live longer lives.
There are many ways seniors can garden even if they have physical or space limitations. One option is to start small by planting a container garden on a porch or balcony to see if it’s something they enjoy. It’s also possible to grow smaller plants, like herbs for example, inside, by simply placing the pot near a window and checking the water often. If they have a window over the kitchen sink, that might be a good place since they will see it often which will remind them to regularly check on it.
Tai chi, Yoga and Pilates
Low-impact seniors’ exercise classes have become increasingly common throughout the country. Seniors who attend these types of classes often find that they increase their flexibility, coordination and balance.
Some seniors prefer to work out without the extra distraction of other seniors in the class. Those who fall into this category may want to look for an instructor that can create a workout program suited specifically for their abilities and needs.
An additional advantage of taking classes like this is, as mentioned above, improved balance. Since seniors are often prone to falling, this will help them be steadier on their feet.
As we age, our muscles naturally tend to atrophy. Like the old adage says, “Use it or lose it.” Therefore, it is extremely important for seniors to work with weights – both static and dynamic – to keep their muscles toned, in shape and working properly. An added benefit when seniors regularly work out with weights is stronger bones and improved balance.
A personal trainer is a great option for seniors who aren’t sure how to work with weights on their own or who want more guidance on which exercises will be most beneficial and how to do them properly.
Dancing is another great way for seniors to get moving and stay active. Dancing is a time-honored form of social connection that seniors can share with family members or friends.
Seniors can find a dance class to enjoy, or they may want to invest in a good pair of dancing shoes and learn from YouTube videos. There may also be dances offered at local senior centers or restaurants that offer live music. A Google search will likely turn up some places to start.
Cycling is a low-impact way for seniors to have fun, enjoy being outdoors, while also being a great workout – seniors can take their bikes out on trails or go on group cycling tours, once they are comfortable riding on uneven terrain..
Seniors who enjoy cycling as exercise will want to make sure they have the right bike that suits their needs and their abilities. Seniors should also get fitted for a bike helmet and ensure they have the right cycling clothing.
Volunteering in the community
Getting involved in the community is another great way seniors can stay active. Volunteering is a simple way seniors can help their communities, which is also an opportunity for more social interaction. While this may not offer the same level of exercise as the options listed above, it’s still a way for seniors to stay active.
Many seniors choose to volunteer at the homes of other seniors, serve at a community center, or help out at the local food bank. Volunteering also gives seniors the chance to benefit from social connections, which has been shown to help seniors live longer, healthier lives.
These are just a few of the many low-impact exercises and activities that seniors can enjoy. It is important for anyone considering exercise to speak with their doctors before starting. Together you can come up with a list of activities that are appropriate for their physical condition and activity level. If you have been inactive recently, your doctor may recommend starting with less strenuous forms of exercise before moving on to more intense activity.
Whether your elderly loved one needs help with basic activities of daily living or more intensive physical therapy, we can provide the assistance they need to stay healthy and happy. We have a wide range of services that can be tailored to meet your, or your loved one’s, specific needs, and our team is passionate about providing top-notch care for our clients. If you’re looking for quality in-home care for your loved ones, or you just want to discuss your unique situation, please reach out to us today. You can call us at (678) 494-8129 or email us at info@SilverCompanionsGA.com.We would be honored to serve you!