Senior Fitness – Keeping that Body and Brain Fit

No one will debate the fact that good nutrition and exercise are key components of good health. And it’s even more important as we age that we adopt an active rather than sedentary lifestyle. While the high-impact workouts of younger years are not recommended, there are highly beneficial exercises for seniors that will keep those bodies fit for a longer, healthier, and happier life.

In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of exercising and then several types of exercises specifically meant for seniors. Let’s get started.

Benefits of Senior Exercise

There are several, and here are the most important ones:

Greater Self-Reliance

We all want to be as independent as possible, not relying on others for help with daily living activities. Regular exercise will keep you self-reliant for much longer.

Better Balance

One of the greatest fears you probably have is that of falling. After all, broken bones take much longer to heal the older we get. Regular exercise can improve your balance by as much as 25%. Better balance means you are less likely to end up in the emergency room.

Improved Brain Function

There are lots of brain exercises and even some medications out there designed to maintain mental fitness as we age. But there is also a recent study that regular exercise can drop your chance of getting Alzheimer’s by as much as 50%. 

More Energy

With more energy, you’ll want to stay active. While you may not know about endorphins, they are chemicals in the brain that are released during certain activities. They are often called “feel-good hormones” because they do just that. Exercise causes the release of these chemicals, and rather than tiring us out, we actually have more energy.

And think of what you can do with it. Some active seniors even pursue online dating to meet new partners who share their interests. If this is something you’d think you’d like to do, try this one. You might travel more or take up some new hobbies. You’ll just have more “get up and go.”

Disease Prevention and Control

What are some common health conditions of seniors? Heart disease, COPD, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression. While exercise will not cure any of these conditions, it will help to reduce the symptoms. And if you do not have these conditions, it will help to prevent them.

Looking at the Best Exercises for Seniors

If you haven’t been active in a while, two tips – start slowly and choose exercises that will put the least amount of stress on your body. You can then work up to more vigorous ones.

Chair Yoga

This is absolutely perfect for beginners. And yes, you sit in a chair as you exercise various parts of your body. These are all low-impact exercises, and you will get those bones and muscles moving more than before.  Another benefit? They work on those troubling fat spots you hate.

To get started, you can join a class or access online videos and do them at home.

Water Aerobics

Regular aerobic exercises have great benefits- they get your heart rate up, improve lung function, and more. But you may not be ready to get that tennis racket out of storage just yet, buy a new pair of running shoes, or go to the gym for 30 minutes on the treadmill at a high speed.

Water aerobics is totally low-impact, and being in water while you exercise puts less stress on muscles and joints. The other benefit is that the resistance of the water during exercise improves flexibility, strength, and balance.

You can jog, do leg lifts, standing push-ups, flutter kicking, and arm curls with small weights. Look into water aerobics classes at your local Y or community center.

Walking

You’re not ready to run a marathon, but walking every day will get those leg muscles and bones moving and active. If you begin your new exercise activity with only walking, that is fine. But you should have a goal of 10,000 steps a day for it to be of greatest benefit. Get a Fitbit and keep track of how many steps you do. From a standard walking pace, you can gradually move up to more brisk walks which will get your heart rate up and improve your lung function. (And if you want to shed a few pounds, walking will do that too).

Resistance Bands

Here’s a truly inexpensive way to improve balance, mobility, and balance.  These are strips of rubber that you use to stretch arms and legs. They come in different resistance levels, so begin with one that will be challenging but not impossible to stretch out. You can gradually increase the resistance level.

If you don’t know anything about resistance bands, join a class or view some videos so you know what you are doing. This is a simple exercise that you can do at home.

Are There Other Good Exercises Than These?

Absolutely. You will want to check out pilates, body weight workouts, and dumbbell strength training starters. There are classes and videos for all of these.

But, above all, avoid high-impact exercise that can damage your body. Start with these and work up as you are comfortable doing so. You want your exercise routine to be challenging but not painful.

 

 

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