Regular exercise is essential to every person, regardless of the age. Of course, as we get older, staying physically active becomes fundamental to our health. Along with maintaining a balanced nutrition, getting the right amount of rest and keeping stress under control, working out on a constant basis can help us enjoy a healthier and longer life.
Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
Engaging in regular physical activity can aid aging adults improve not only their physical, but mental health as well. Among others, staying active can:
- Prevent a series of diseases. Researchers have shown that constant exercise has the power to boost your immunity and prevent heart disease, diabetes or certain forms of cancer.
- Improve balance and coordination. Falling down when you’re 20 is one thing and a completely different thing when you’re 65. According to research, exercise can reduce the rate of falls by 23% in individuals over the age of 60.
- Better brain function. There’s increasing evidence that healthy habits, such as regular workouts, can lead to an improvement in cognitive function. A recent study showed that engaging in aerobic training for over 150 minutes per week can offset or prevent cognitive decline in seniors at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Improve wellbeing. During a workout session, your nervous system releases endorphins. Endorphins are the so-called “feel-good chemicals”, designed to relieve stress and anxiety and improve your mood. The higher the level of endorphins, the livelier you’ll feel.
So, as we’ve seen, it’s truly important to stay active. Of course, it’s not exactly wise to do the same routine you used to do when you were in your 20’s or 30’s. You need to do exercises that are suitable for your current age and fitness level.
According to the National Institute of Aging, senior citizens should mix four different types of workouts to really reap the health benefits: aerobic, balance, strength and flexibility. Below you can find a list of safe exercises for older adults which target all four areas previously mentioned.
Walking is an aerobic, low-impact exercise for seniors that can generate a multitude of health benefits.
Going for a walk 30 minutes each day can keep your heart healthy, reduce the risk of diabetes, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve digestion and alleviate depression. Moreover, according to various scientific studies, walking can add years to your life. The great thing about this activity is that it’s completely free, it’s accessible to almost anyone and can be done anywhere.
To make the most of your walking sessions, it’s a good idea to start recording your activity. This way you’ll be able to see how much you’re actually walking and if you’re meeting the recommended guidelines, monitor your progress over time and feel good about your fitness accomplishments.
In order to keep track of your walks, simply download a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker. The app will automatically provide all the relevant fitness data, from your step count and distance to the active time and calories burned. You’ll also get to set your own goal for the desired metric and analyze your progress for each day, week and month.
Many times overlooked, stretching is a mandatory exercise for aging adults. First of all, because it plays a major role in maintaining flexibility. The decline in flexibility, which takes place as we get older, can be combated through a daily stretching routine. This should include stretches for diverse muscle groups, from your neck, back and arms to your thighs and calves.
The health benefits of stretching don’t end here. In addition to an increased flexibility, this activity can relieve stiffness in your muscles, tendons and ligaments, improve your posture, maintain a good balance and coordination and reduce the risk of falls. If you want to enjoy a higher mobility and independence over time, make sure you incorporate stretching in your fitness program.
In case you’re looking for a safe, but efficient workout, this one is definitely worth a try. Stationary cycling is low-intensity and has a minimum impact on your joints, which means it’s ideal for those suffering from knee or back pain.
Getting on a stationary bike is a great way to stay in shape and boost your health. This type of cycling can lower your blood pressure, improve your blood circulation and respiratory system. Naturally, as you would have imagined, during such a training session you’ll get to use several muscle groups, from your thighs and calves to hamstrings and arms and shoulders. Therefore this is a great exercise to tone up your muscles.
Along with the passage of time, we start losing muscle mass and bone density. This is a natural, age-related process. Luckily, strength training can aid us offset this decline. According to scientists, this form of workout is truly effective for people over 60. More precisely, constant strength training can lead to an increase in muscle mass and implicitly improve muscle strength and overall mobility.
There’s no need to go to the gym. You can easily exercise in the comfort of your home. Now, depending on your preferences, you can do it with or without special equipment. There are many bodyweight workouts you can try, such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats or side planks. At the same time you can try resistance bands or lifting arm weights to enhance muscular strength. Specialists recommend engaging in this type of activities two or three times per week.
Working out in the water is an activity growing in popularity. This is due to the fact that it can be cooling and refreshing and, at the same time, it comes with a wide range of health benefits for seniors.
Due to the buoyancy of the water, which takes off some of the pressure we put on our bodies, this is a recommend exercise for those suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis or other joint conditions. Besides being very gentle with your joints, water aerobics can aid you improve your flexibility and balance and increase your muscle strength.
Tai Chi can be regarded as one of the best workouts for older adults. Why exactly? Well, because it’s a practice not only for the body, but for the mind as well. Tai Chi is a low-intensity exercise, it puts little stress on your joints and therefore it’s entirely safe for seniors.
This activity has major benefits for your flexibility, balance and agility and can help you increase your energy and stamina and improve sleep quality. As already mentioned, this workout is also great for your mental health. Through its slow and gentle movements, Tai Chi promotes stress reduction, better concentration, relaxation of the mind and a state of serenity.