Good nutrition and exercise are vital components of a healthy lifestyle, and this is especially true as we age and our needs are changing. Frequent exercise is very important for seniors, and research shows an increasing number of seniors are choosing to live an active lifestyle rather than an inactive one. There are many benefits for seniors who engage in exercise, and we hope to demonstrate some of the best exercises, and even some that should be avoided as they can be hazards to the health of older adults.
Let’s look at some of the health benefits of exercise for seniors
Unlike when we were younger, our reasons for getting in shape have changed and so have our bodies. Physical fitness is beneficial for people of all ages, however, the advantages of being healthy as a senior are more remarkable. Researchers and physicians both agree that seniors should be physically active, being careful to avoid overexertion. Exercise contributes to a healthier, happier, and longer life, especially in older adults.
Benefits of Exercise in Your Latter Years
Frequent exercise can lead to greater independence.
Older adults that exercise are typically less reliant on others in their day to day lives. Harvard Medical School reports that seniors who exercise regularly are more able to walk, cook, eat, dress, bathe, and even use the restroom independently. For those seniors who prioritize independence, being physically active is a very good way to stay self-reliant for a long time.
Frequent exercise may help seniors with balance and coordination.
A fall can have a much more severe outcome with seniors than for younger adults. According to the National Council for Aging, every 19 minutes a senior dies from a fall, and every 11 seconds a senior is injured from a fall and taken to an emergency room. Although difficult to foresee and avoid, being physically fit through regular exercise can help lower your chances of falling to 23%.
Through regular exercise you can gain more energy in your everyday life.
Contrary to what you might think, an active lifestyle will lead to even more energy, and a sedentary lifestyle will make you feel less energetic. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that are linked to a sense of well-being and pain relief as well. These essential neurotransmitters promote better sleep, battle stress hormones, and make you feel more energetic and full of life.
Exercise is vital in disease prevention.
Diabetes, depression, heart disease, and osteoporosis are more widespread among seniors and often fatal if not dealt with. Embracing an active lifestyle can help ease the symptoms of these conditions or even prevent them altogether. Exercise is essential in fighting diseases if you are more vulnerable to them.
Frequent exercise enhances brain performance.
Health science has brought to light a fascinating association between mental well being and overall physical health. Healthy body, healthy mind, and older adults that engage in frequent exercise have better cognitive ability, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) research states. Regular exercise has been proven to lower your chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by around 50-percent, according to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation.
Top Exercises for Older Adults
It can be challenging for seniors to get started with a much needed exercise program. This can be even more uncomfortable if you haven’t been exercising for any length of time. Maybe the exercise routine you once did when you were younger is no longer suitable for you today.
Be sure to check with your doctor to see if you are healthy enough for exercise before you begin.
Water aerobics is especially popular among seniors today, but is widely enjoyed by people of all age groups. For those suffering with arthritis and other joint pain, water aerobics is very beneficial as it minimizes the stress placed on your joints because of the supportive nature of water. Water also offers resistance as you move, safely mimicking strength training with weights. While minimizing stress on your body, water aerobics can improve your balance, strength, and flexibility.
Here are a few water aerobics for seniors exercises:
Standing water push-ups
Similar to water aerobics, chair yoga is a minimal-impact exercise that is good for increasing mobility, balance, flexibility, and muscle strength. Unlike traditional forms of yoga, chair yoga is a more accessible form of yoga that puts less stress on joints, bones, and muscles.
Chair yoga has also been linked to better mental health among seniors. There is a report of better sleep quality, lesser feelings of depression, and an overall sense of well-being among frequent practitioners of chair yoga.
Here are some examples of senior chair yoga exercises:
Seated cat stretch
Seated mountain pose
Seated cow stretch
Add resistance to workouts with less stress on your body using resistance bands, which mimic rubber bands. Workouts using resistance bands are good for beginners, user-friendly and accessible. Due to the modest cost of materials, resistance band exercise is becoming more popular among seniors for at home workouts. Resistance band exercises are great for improving mobility, balance, and posture, by strengthening the muscles in your core.
Here are some resistance band exercises for seniors:
Band pull apart
Developed over a century ago, Pilates is a popular form of low-impact exercise. Pilates commonly uses mats, balls, and inflated accessories to build strength without the stress to your body as with higher impact exercises, focusing on breathing, alignment, concentration and core strength. In seniors, Pilates can be great for improving flexibility, building core strength, and better balance.
Here are some Pilates exercises for seniors:
Walking is a very accessible and stress-free type of exercise. Because of the different challenges that seniors face, setting distance goals or step counts will vary from person to person. On average, 10,000 steps per day is recommended for good health, however, those who suffer from joint pain or trouble walking should not be discouraged and aim for a lesser amount. A Public library of science (PLOS) one study determined that walking 10,000 steps a day lowered mortality by 46%, on the 10-year outlook chart. Walking strengthens muscles, lowers your risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and colon cancer, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a few walking tips for seniors:
Look for a park with a moderate trail.
Train for a race that is walk friendly.
Walk around a building that is familiar to you.
Listen to music or an audio book while you walk for motivation.
Body weight exercises
In seniors, muscle loss can be debilitating and overwhelming. One third of older adults live with severe muscle loss, which can lead to other problems, such as hormone problems, and a decrease in the ability to metabolize protein. One of the best ways for seniors to combat muscle atrophy is body weight exercises. Body weight workouts are a great option due to their affordability. Most body weight workouts only require a mat for the floor and workout clothing.
Here are some body weight exercises for seniors:
Lying hip bridges
Side lying circles
Dumb bell strength training
Strength training exercise is a proven method of relieving the symptoms of osteoporosis, diabetes, back pain, depression, and is even good for weight management. Enhanced glucose control and a higher metabolism are some of the benefits of strength training you can enjoy. If done with some precautionary measures, dumb bell exercises are a great way for older adults to strength train. Seniors who work out with dumb bells can improve flexibility, balance, and strengthen muscle groups through muscle isolation.
Here are some dumb bell exercises for seniors:
Here are some workouts seniors should avoid:
Avoid popular mainstream workouts as they are not suitable for seniors. Popular mainstream workouts are ideal for younger adults who are looking to lose weight or build muscle rapidly, which can be dangerous for seniors with age related issues such as bad posture, poor balance, joint pain, or atrophied muscles.
Adults over the age of 65 should avoid these exercises:
Long distance running
Squats with weights or dumb bells
High intensity interval training