Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips

Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips

The whole-body benefits of exercise for seniElderly bikerors

  • Exercise helps seniors maintain or lose weight.
  • Exercise reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. 
  • Exercise enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance in seniors
  • Exercise improves your sleep.
  • Exercise boosts mood and self-confidence. 
  • Exercise is good for the brain.

Senior exercise and fitness: Tips for getting started safely

Are you ready to begin an exercise program? Congratulations! Committing to a routine of physical activity is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. Before you get moving, consider how best to be safe.

  • Get medical clearance
  • Consider health concerns. Keep in mind how your ongoing health problems affect your workouts. For example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule. Above all, if something feels wrong, such as sharp pain or unusual shortness of breath, simply stop. You may need to scale back or try another activity.
  • Start slow.
  • Recognize problems. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain. Also stop if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to touch. 

Senior fitness and exercise: Tips for building a balanced exercise plan

Staying active is not a science. Just remember that mixing different types of exercise helps both reduce monotony and improve your overall health. Here is an overview of the four building blocks of senior fitness and how they can help your body.

Cardio endurance exercise 

  • What is it: Uses large muscle groups in rhythmic motions over a period of time. This type of exercise increases your body’s ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove waste over sustained periods of time. Cardio workouts get your heart pumping and you may even feel a little short of breath.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Helps lessen fatigue and shortness of breath. Promotes independence by improving endurance for daily activities such as walking, house cleaning, and errands. Cardio includes walking, stair climbing, swimming, hiking, cycling, rowing, tennis, and dancing.
  • What is it: Builds up muscle with repetitive motion using weight or external resistance from body weight, machines, or elastic bands.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Helps elderly people prevent loss of bone mass, builds muscle, and improves balance—both important in staying active and preventing risk of falling. Building up strength will help seniors stay independent and make day-to-day activities easier such as opening a jar, getting in and out of a car, and lifting objects.
  • What is it: Challenges the joint’s ability to move freely through a full range of motion (ROM). Can be done through static stretches (stationary), and ballistic stretches (moving or bouncing) to keep muscles and joints supple so they are less prone to injury.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Helps body stay limber and increases range of movement for ordinary physical activities such as looking behind you while driving, tying shoes, shampooing your hair, and playing with grandchildren.
  • What is it: Maintains standing and stability under a variety of conditions including static (stationary) and dynamic (moving) balance.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Improves balance, posture, and quality of walking. Also reduces risk of falling and fear of falls. Try yoga, Tai Chi, and posture exercises to gain confidence with balance.
  • Walking. Walking is a perfect way to start exercising. It requires no special equipment, aside from a pair of comfortable walking shoes, and can be done anywhere.
  • Senior sports or fitness classes. Keeps motivation alive while also providing a source of fun, stress relief, and a place to meet friends.
  • Water aerobics and water sports. Working out in water is wonderful for seniors because water reduces stress and strain on the body’s joints.
  • Yoga. Combines a series of poses with breathing. Moving through the poses works on strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga can be adapted to any level.
  • Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Martial arts-inspired systems of movement that increase balance and strength. Classes for seniors are often available at your local YMCA or community center.

Strength training

  • What is it: Builds up muscle with repetitive motion using weight or external resistance from body weight, machines, or elastic bands.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Helps elderly people prevent loss of bone mass, builds muscle, and improves balance—both important in staying active and preventing risk of falling. Building up strength will help seniors stay independent and make day-to-day activities easier such as opening a jar, getting in and out of a car, and lifting objects.

Flexibility

  • What is it: Challenges the joint’s ability to move freely through a full range of motion (ROM). Can be done through static stretches (stationary), and ballistic stretches (moving or bouncing) to keep muscles and joints supple so they are less prone to injury.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Helps body stay limber and increases range of movement for ordinary physical activities such as looking behind you while driving, tying shoes, shampooing your hair, and playing with grandchildren.

Balance

  • What is it: Maintains standing and stability under a variety of conditions including static (stationary) and dynamic (moving) balance.
  • Why it’s good for seniors: Improves balance, posture, and quality of walking. Also reduces risk of falling and fear of falls. Try yoga, Tai Chi, and posture exercises to gain confidence with balance.

Types of activities that are beneficial to seniors:

Senior fitness and exercise: Tips for frail or chair-bound seniors

If you are chair-bound, movement matters even more, and fitness is entirely achievable. Chair-bound seniors can reap the benefits of exercise with strength training, flexibility, and even some endurance movements. If being chair-bound has prevented you from trying exercise in the past, take heart knowing that when you become more physically active, the results will amaze you. Like any exercise program, a chair-bound fitness routine takes a little creativity and personalization. Ready for a new you? Check out the following tips.

Chair-bound Fitness: So much is possible!

  • Strength: Use free weights (otherwise known as “dumbbells”) to do repetitive sets of lifting. Don’t have weights? Use anything that is weighted and fits in your hand, like soup cans.
  • Resistance: Resistance bands are like giant rubber bands designed to give your muscles a good workout when stretched and pulled.  Resistance bands can be attached to furniture, a doorknob, or even your chair.  Use these for pull-downs, shoulder rotations, and arm and leg-extensions.
  • Flexibility: By practicing mindful breathing and slowly stretching, bending, and twisting, you can limber up and improve your range of motion. Some of these exercises can also be done lying down! Ask your doctor or search online for chair-yoga possibilities.
  • Endurance: Check out pool-therapy programs designed for wheelchair bound seniors. Also, wheelchair-training machines make arm-bicycling and rowing possible. If you lack access to special machines or pools, repetitive movements (like rapid leg lifts or sitting pushups) work just as well to raise your heart rate. Your doctor will have more ideas.

Senior exercise and fitness: Tips for staying active for life

The more you exercise, the more you will reap the benefits, so it’s important to stay motivated when life’s challenges get in the way.

  • Keep a log. Writing down your activities in an exercise journal not only holds you accountable, but also is a reminder of accomplishments.
  • Stay inspiredReading health magazines or watching sports shows can help remind you how great it feels to take care of your body.
  • Get support.
  • Exercise safely. Nothing derails an exercise plan like an injury. Use common sense and don’t exercise if you are ill. Wear brightly colored clothing to be visible on the roads. When the weather brings slippery conditions, walk at a mall indoors to prevent falling.
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2 Responses to Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips

  1. Gary Davis says:

    I love using Youtube exercise videos when I want to get in a good workout, but don’t have enough time, or sometimes motivation to go to the gym, it’s a great resource!

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