Senior Health and Fitness Basics

One of the most common misconceptions about senior life is that exercise isn’t and shouldn’t be a priority. Although they are more vulnerable to injury and strain, seniors can get just as many benefits out of daily exercise as people in any age range. Exercise can even be more helpful for seniors than younger folks in terms of keeping fit and mentally healthy while keeping blood and cholesterol levels regulated. When it comes to fitness for seniors, however, many people don’t know the basics. If you’re looking out for a healthy senior in your life, here are a few tips to get started.

Endurance

The best way to make exercise payoff is to engage in activities that get you moving and increase your heart rate. Most of us think of aerobic activities in regards to the treadmill or the elliptical. However, there are many great ways for seniors to build aerobic endurance without risking injury. In addition to the basics of walking, dancing, and swimming, there are also a number of classes seniors can take that are less prone to strain, like tai chi, yoga, pilates, or any type of dancing class. Even a low-impact spinning class could be a great way for seniors to engage in aerobic activity every day.

Strength Training

When we think of strength training, we think of heavy weights and machines. For seniors, however, building strength doesn’t have to be a matter of pumping lead. Small weights can be great for doing slow, measured exercises. It’s also helpful to encourage seniors to do stretching exercises like pushups and sit ups. These exercises are best in moderation, and if they take place in a moderated environment like a class or supervised gym space in a retirement community or elder care facility, all the better. When it comes to lifting weights and engaging in strength training, the most important thing to keep in mind is that seniors shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Building strength is an important component of keeping fit as an older adult, and as long as weights are lifted in a supervised area, there should be little risk of any kind.

Balance

Balance is one of the most important aspects of senior fitness. When seniors start to get older, the threat of falling down or tripping grows more and more likely. It can be common for seniors to fear leaving the house because of the potential of getting caught in a vulnerable situation in public. However, with exercises that prioritize balance, a senior can get back on track and feel much more in control of the situation. In addition to dancing classes or regular swimming and aqua aerobics classes, many simple balancing exercises can be done daily in the home and take no more than a few minutes. Making sure to do these every day can drastically increase a senior’s balance, along with their feelings of stability and well-being.

Keeping Flexible

With many lower impact activities for seniors, flexibility is key. Going to yoga and receiving adjustments from a knowledgeable teacher always helps with this, but flexibility can also be achieved on one’s own, by practicing a few simple exercises each day. As we get older, it also becomes more important to focus on stretches that pinpoint parts of the body we don’t tend to think about each day, like our necks, fingers, or toes. Many stretches can be done sitting in place at the breakfast table or after a meal. Stretching smaller areas of the body like the jaws and wrists are great activities for getting motivated and out of the house in the morning.

At Home Exercises

Whether your senior is living with a partner at home, living independently, or enjoying advanced senior care from Seniors Helping Seniors Treasure Coast, there are some simple, helpful exercises that can be done anytime, anywhere that every senior should know about. In addition to the stretches we’ve discussed, there are many warm-ups and activities that can be done in the privacy of a senior’s home. Running in place is a great way to warm up before a swim, and walking for up to 30 minutes a day has been proven to increase health in seniors. Even if a senior only devotes ten minutes of each day to exercises, whether in classes or through an individualized routine, they’re doing a lot to moderate blood pressure and cholesterol while increasing their overall health and longevity.