As seniors age, they may lose their mobility, balance and flexibility. However, they can fight those issues by remaining active and involved in fitness in order to age gracefully. At the same time, they must be aware of any limitations or restrictions they may have from a doctor. It’s important to find fitness options that are interesting, safe and challenging enough to have a positive impact.
When you think of senior exercises or workouts, you may focus on active people who can get out and go for a walk or even a jog. However, fitness is important for every senior even if they are limited in their ability. In fact, it may be even more important for someone who has health conditions or limitations to keep the rest of their system at optimal performance.
For example, someone who is wheelchair bound may need stronger arm muscles to help them do certain tasks. If someone has trouble walking with one leg; they will need to be stronger in the other leg to compensate for the added work it has to do. In some cases, exercise can even reverse the physical issues. For instance, performing certain balancing exercises can help someone who has the tendency to fall.
You can find fitness programs and opportunities in independent living communities but also in assisted living as well. Many of these places have a fitness director or manager who adapts exercises to the individual’s fitness level and limitations. This allows the senior to work out for improved physical and mental health even if they can’t do all aspects of the fitness routine.
One of the best ways for seniors to exercise is through water activities. The water provides buoyancy for the person and takes the stress off joints. You can participate in this fitness regimen even if you have arthritis or other medical conditions.
Swimming is one way to keep in shape as you age. The water acts almost like weights in the fact that it challenges your muscles. However, you don’t put any stress on your joints when you’re gliding through the water.
You can use swimming for a cardio workout, which is much easier on your body than running or even walking. It can also help with muscle tone and provide other health benefits. If you want to give your lungs and heart a good workout without taxing your joints and bones, swimming is the optimal choice.
For a little extra challenge, you can join a water aerobics class. Imagine doing jumping jacks, marching in place and other exercises without hurting your joints. Unlike working out on the floor, the water provides support and prevents the harsh impact you see with traditional exercises.
You can find a beginner’s class at many gyms and senior living communities. It’s a great way to exercise regardless of your age or health level.
Cardio exercise is designed to increase the heart rate, work the lungs and even help people lose weight. In spite of the benefits, many seniors steer away from any exercise labeled as cardio because they view it as too harsh for their joints and muscles. However, cardio is good for people of all ages. You just need to find the right style and intensity to ensure you don’t hurt your body.
One type of cardio that has seen an increase in the number of older adult participants is Zumba. This cardio workout is set to dance music, which may be adapted to the age of the people in the class.
You follow your instructor’s moves but go at your own pace. The addition of music makes the class feel more like dancing than exercising, and everyone has more fun.
For seniors, a brisk walk can be a cardio workout. The key is to reach a speed that raises your heart rate and increases deep breathing. Walking is often better than running because you don’t put as much impact on your joints.
Another benefit of walking is almost anyone can do it. Even if you have a cane or walker, you can take a stroll. It doesn’t even have to be a long walk. Just 10 or 15 minutes will provide major benefits to your body and mind. Walking outdoors in nice weather can enhance those benefits, but you can often find places for indoor walking in bad weather.
Muscle loss can begin as early as the 30s, and it continues year after year unless you do something to prevent it. For older adults, maintaining muscle is essential to living independently. While the focus on exercise is often on cardio, strength training is just as important.
Muscle tone is necessary to maintain balance, have good posture and manage many daily tasks. Seniors should incorporate some type of strength training into their weekly routine.
Weight lifting isn’t just for bodybuilders or those who want a strong, muscular physique. You can adapt it for almost any age and fitness level by simply adjusting the amount of weight you lift. With some exercises, such as calf raises, your body is the weight being used.
The key to being successful with weight lifting is using slow, controlled movements. When you move slowly, your muscles are doing the work, and momentum isn’t carrying you through. You can find simple exercises such as bicep curls or squats that you can adapt to your abilities.
Even people who are wheelchair-bound can strengthen their muscles through weight lifting. They can work on upper body strength from their seat. One-pound weights provide just enough added weight to challenge muscles to keep them strong.
For people who have suffered from an injury or have specific issues, physical therapy provides an opportunity to strengthen one area. Therapists work with seniors to improve balance, strengthen muscles in the arms and legs and provide support for joints.
Physical therapy is designed for people who have been injured or have limited mobility in an area, which is why it is useful for almost any person. Whether you are able to be up and around or are restricted to a wheelchair or bed, you can experience the benefits of physical therapy for your muscles.
People have expanded their ideas of exercise to include other forms which may appeal to their mind as well as their body. Many of these have been borrowed from ancient cultures. They offer a unique way to work out and provide many benefits.
An ancient form of martial arts once designed for fighting, Tai Chi has now become popular as an exercise workout. Experts believe it has benefits for the mind as well as the body. More seniors are getting involved in this type of workout because it isn’t hard on the body.
Tai Chi uses slow, controlled movements for the exercise. You move from one pose into the next without stopping. Because it is performed slowly, even people with limited mobility or other health issues can often participate.
The workout can be adapted for those who cannot stand very long or who must be in a wheelchair with Chair Tai Chi. In this option, the focus is on upper body movements. It can help with strength because you are using your muscles to move through the exercises, and it can improve balance.
Yoga has been a popular choice for workouts for many years. Seniors may hesitate to participate because they have heard it can be difficult, especially some of the poses used in the workouts. However, a yoga class designed specifically for seniors can be fun and beneficial.
One of the main benefits of yoga is that it works on your core, helping improve your balance. You’re supposed to hold each pose for a certain length of time, which also strengthens your muscles without overtaxing them.
Just like with Tai Chi, there is an adaption with yoga for those who cannot stand. Chair yoga focuses on the upper body and even the lower body with poses which allow you to remain seated or even lying down.
Studies have shown that the benefits of yoga for seniors are numerous. They may include:
With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to try and decide which one is right for you. Fortunately, many cities and senior communities offer more than one option. Even assisted living communities provide fitness classes and programs to help their residents maintain as much independence and capability as possible.
You can try multiple classes until you find one that is right for you or keeps your interest. Just make sure you consult with your doctor before you try any on your own. However, mixing it up with more than one type of exercise will provide the most benefits because it challenges your body in different ways.
As seniors age, they often need to consume fewer calories to maintain their weight. However, you will need to adjust your caloric intake if you work out regularly. If you are using more energy, you’ll need to replenish it with the right foods.
Carbohydrates are often known as the enemy of a healthy weight. However, carbs also provide you with energy so you can do your exercises. Instead of focusing on bread, pasta and sugars, you can get your carbs from fruits and vegetables.
You’ll also need protein to help you build muscle as you work out. Milk and other dairy products provide a substantial amount of protein, but you can find it in other forms if you’re lactose intolerant. Meat is also a good source, but beans are another option.
Exercise can make you hungrier, but you’ll need to ensure you’re eating healthy foods and not just consuming empty calories. Not to mention, it's increasingly important for seniors to stay hydrated. You can create a diet that provides you with the necessary energy for your workouts but takes into consideration any health issues you may have.
Keeping fit is not just about the body. Your mind plays a key role in your overall health. That’s why it’s important to keep your brain active as well. Many independent and assisted living communities like Village Green in Federal Way help seniors keep their minds fit with various activities and games.
You can take a craft class or learn about history or other cultures. You can even study a new language or enjoy bird watching and gardening. Access to the internet gives seniors more opportunities to experience and learn new information. Teaching can help people stay alert, so one option is to instruct a class on your favorite hobby.
Keeping your brain fit and healthy is something anyone can do regardless of their physical limitations. However, it works with physical exercise to provide a higher-quality of life and more independence for people as they get older.
Fitness isn’t just a priority for those who are young or running around after kids. People of all ages can benefit from being in shape. Seniors will find they feel and look better, which gives them a happier outlook and more confidence so they can enjoy these golden years in better health.
No matter your current fitness level, you can find an exercise program that suits your personality and ability. If you’re considering Village Green for your future home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that we focus on the physical and mental health of our residents in many unique and interesting ways. We offer numerous programs to ensure people of all interests have their needs met.