As you age, you may naturally find that it becomes harder to stay physically active and to maintain an enjoyable level of fitness. However, staying active is a key part of aging with grace, and there are some great activities that can help to keep seniors fit and healthy. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of staying active as you age, and then discuss some of the best exercises for seniors that can help you achieve your fitness goals. Get ready to move, seniors!
1. The Benefits of Seniors Staying Active
As people age, physical activity is increasingly invaluable. Are you a senior looking for the benefits of staying active? Here’s the short of it: physical activity helps seniors stay both physically and mentally healthy.
- Physical Benefits – Regular exercise keeps people fit and healthy, helping them reduce the risk of heart-related diseases, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, exercise can help keep bones and joints strong, reducing the risk of fractures from falls.
- Mental Benefits – Exercise provides people with a mood boost, improving mental clarity, reducing stress, and helping fend off depression. Exercise can even have a positive impact on sleeping habits, playing a crucial role in how well seniors age.
Exercising does not mean a person has to push their body excessively. Exercise can include simple activities like walking, swimming, or taking an aerobics class. Joining an exercise group or class for seniors can also be a fun, social activity.
Seniors that stay active also tend to be more independent. Exercising regularly can help preserve energy levels, strength, and endurance. This can help seniors perform daily activities with ease, allowing them to be more independent and stay in their homes longer.
In many ways, staying active could just be what seniors need as they age. Physical activities can have positive effects on their physical and mental health, allowing them to be more independent and active in their old age. The benefits of physical activity for seniors simply cannot be ignored.
2. Designing Age-Appropriate Exercise Routines
Designing effective workout routines for different age groups requires careful consideration and a good understanding of how each stage of life influences physical activities.
For example, kids’ fitness activities should be enjoyable and engaging activities that challenge muscles and coordination in a fun way. Basic drills can include running, jumping, jogging, and basic weight training with lighter weights. It is also important to introduce kids to aerobic activities, such as outdoor games that promote short bursts of energy. Overall, the workouts should focus on developing strength and coordination, not necessarily on losing weight or burning calories.
Teenagers should be engaging in a combination of strength and aerobic activities for 30 minutes at least 4-5 times a week. Strength activities for teenagers should focus on the large muscle groups, such as the quads, hamstrings, and upper body muscles. Basic weight training with moderate weights can useful and this is a great way to build strength and adaptive motor skills. Aerobic activities that teenagers can engage in include swimming, running, cycling, and sports such as basketball or soccer.
When designing routine fitness exercises for adults, emphasis should be placed on functional movement, such as bending, squatting, and reaching. Core strengthening workouts should also be incorporated to help adults maintain better posture and encourage proper technique during strength training exercises. Both strength and aerobic activities should be included in the routine, and oftentimes yoga or Pilates can be incorporated to help with balance and flexibility. Some possible activities include interval training on the elliptical machine, step aerobics, jogging, and strength training with barbells and/or body weight exercises.
Creating workout routines for seniors is slightly different than other age groups. For seniors, it is important to focus on activities that promote balance, coordination, and development of muscles to help prevent falls. Low-impact activities should be done at least three times a week to help seniors maintain physical health and prevent or reduce musculoskeletal pain. Examples include water aerobics, tai chi, walking, and light weightlifting.
- Kids: running, jumping, jogging, basic weight training.
- Teenagers: strength and aerobic activities for 30 minutes, at least 4-5 times a week
- Adults: functional movement, core strengthening, aerobic and strength training
- Seniors: low-impact activities at least three times a week.
3. Making Fitness Fun for Older Adults
Fitness is a vital component to a healthy lifestyle for everyone, no matter age. Older adults may feel intimidated or daunted by the potential of starting a rigorous workout routine, or may feel that gym equipment is designed for younger people. However, there are small changes to lifestyle that can positively impact exercise levels.
The key to making fitness fun for seniors is to focus on activities and exercises that are within their comfort level. The following are some simple activities that are low-impact and enjoyable:
- Brisk walks.
- Gentle stretching.
- Tai chi.
- Chair exercises.
There are also social and group activities that seniors may find fun and rewarding. Group classes, such as water aerobics, yoga, or dance are a great way to meet others with the same interests. Team sports such as baseball or basketball are also possible activities. Games such as ping pong, bocce ball, and corn hole can be incorporated into regular outdoor activities, providing older adults with a good reason to socialize and be active in the community.
Fitness for seniors also includes mental activities, such as crosswords, puzzles, Sudoku, and other brain games. These activities can help challenge the mind and keep the brain sharp. Additional activities, such as painting, writing, and journaling, are also great mental exercises for seniors. These activities can provide an outlet for creative expression and help seniors stay connected with their inner selves.
4. Maximizing Mobility for a Healthy Life
As the human body ages, a natural decrease in mobility is expected. But, that does not mean that achieving a healthy lifestyle is impossible. Taking simple steps on a regular basis can help maximize mobility and keep aches, pains, and stiffness away.
Yoga. One of the best ways to help keep your joints limber is through yoga. Practicing poses such as mountain pose, warrior 1, and chair pose through gentle, mindful movements can stimulate circulation and increase flexibility.
Daily stretches. You don’t have to be into yoga to stretch regularly. It’s easy to drop your typical morning routine and move through simple stretches while still in bed. Reach up and down multiple times to loosen the arms, wrists, and neck area. Spend extra time focusing on any particular area that may feel especially tight.
Strength training. Building muscle strength can help support joints to promote better mobility. A few simple exercises such as arm circles, leg swings, and wall squats can be practiced without any added equipment. Alternately, visit light weights or resistance band into your exercise schedule for an added challenge.
Take a walk. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to keep mobility in order is to take a walk. The regular low-impact exercise helps lubricate joints, strengthen muscles, and control weight. Many great trails are available with different levels of challenge. Enjoy nature and the ease of movement while taking a few laps around your favorite spot.
- Look for gentle exercise classes geared towards older adults.
- Start slowly, and build up intensity.
- Pay attention to how your body feels during and after exercise, never overdo it.
- Take breaks in-between your activities.
By taking the right steps to care for our bodies, we can maintain the ability of mobility for many years to come. With the proper combination of activity and rest we can move with energy, ease, and agility.
By staying active in your later years, you can retain a youthful spirit and enjoy the joys of life. Exercise and fitness help you burn off stress and improve your overall health. As you age, your physical abilities may decrease but your spirit and energy can stay sharp and vital. Let’s make the most of our later years and keep going strong.