Staying active, even if it’s just for 15 minutes at a time, can significantly improve any senior’s health. Routine exercise can help boost your mood, help you maintain your current weight or lose weight, add a few years to your life, enhance your balance, flexibility, and mobility, and it can help reduce the impact of diseases or illnesses like Alzheimer’s.
However, before you start an exercise routine, you should talk to your doctor about your physical fitness levels and goals. It’s also a good idea to consider talking to a personal trainer. Drink a lot of water, wear comfortable shoes to prevent slipping, and consider having a buddy go with you to help if you need it. Also, check into fitness programs for seniors in your area, including Medicare’s SilverSneakers.
Common Fitness Programs for Seniors
There are many types of fitness programs you can try or join to help keep yourself active. The most popular choices for seniors include but are not limited to:
When the weather outside is too rainy to wet, you can go for a walk in an indoor shopping mall, museum, conservatory, school, or in a large public indoor space. You should try to take a brisk 30-minute walk enough times to hit 2.5 hours of walking a week. Consider investing in a pedometer to count every step you take and track your movement.
Before you start exercising, it’s important that you stretch. You also want to stretch when you’re done to reduce any muscle pain you may have and lower your risks of injuries. Flexibility exercises can help offset the effects of normal joint flexibility decline while helping you be independent and active. At least two times a week, you want to stretch for at least 10 minutes. While you do, it’s a good idea to target each of your major muscle groups.
Join a Gym
Through a combination of training, education, equipment, and socialization, gyms are a great place to exercise. A lot of gyms offer discounted rates for seniors, and some Medicare Advantage plans offer a free fitness program specially targeted toward seniors, such as SilverSneakers. You should talk to your primary care doctor or your trainer about working to create an exercise routine. Also, it’s a good idea to use cardio equipment like a stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical trainer.
Swimming is a wonderful low impact workout that has very low chances of injuries while giving you several health benefits for your joints, heart, muscle strength, flexibility, and stress reduction. If the gym doesn’t have one, contact your local high school, hotel, recreational center, or university and see if they have a pool and if it’s open to the public. Some institutions that have a pool will charge a small fee for public access.
You can create a home gym with a little or as much equipment you need to complete your physical fitness routine. You can order cardio equipment, but you will most likely only need simple items like light weights, a workout mat, and a resistance band.
- Seated Chair Exercises – Chair exercises are very simple, and you can complete them while you sit in a chair. This allows you to work out or move without putting strain or pressure on your body. You’ll perform simple movements like lifting a lightweight ball over your head, bending your feet up and down, or lifting at your knees.
- Step Exercises – This is an aerobic workout that can help to strengthen your legs and keep your knees very limber. When you do step aerobics, you’ll step up, around, and down using elevated platforms. The step should be at a comfortable height, gives you ample space to stand so you don’t fall, and it should be very sturdy. If you have balance problems, you should consider putting the step next to the wall so you can hang on.