Senior Health Tips

Fitness for Seniors

With age, most people tend to become sedentary. Work, kids, and relationships can push your health and well-being down on the list of your priorities. However, staying fit is a primary key to a long, healthy, and productive life, and being able to take care of others around you.

Benefits of exercise for seniors

By leading an active life, seniors benefit more than people of any other age. Exercising regularly not only improves your overall physical health but also boosts your mental health.  Key physical benefits include increased mobility, flexibility, and balance. You’ll be able to control your weight, even lose a few pounds, and the impact of chronic diseases and illnesses can decrease. Your brain also undergoes positive changes, you’ll sleep better, and your self-confidence and mood will lift.

Obstacles to an active lifestyle

Maintaining an active lifestyle is hard at any age, and it gets harder as you get older. The biggest hindrance is the thought that you’re too old to exercise. Sure, it’s not easy, but people that become active in older age show better progress, both physically and mentally. Some older adults are scared they’ll fall if they exercise, but the opposite is true. You’ll gain strength, stamina, improve balance, and avoid bone density loss.

Another excuse seniors have is that they will never be as athletic as they once used to be, and that’s true. But you don’t have to; your goals will be different from someone half your age. Chair-limited seniors are the least active and think they can’t exercise, but they are the ones who need to be active the most. Chair aerobics, chair yoga, weight lifting, and tai chi can be done from a chair to increases flexibility, muscle tone, enhance the range of motion, and promote heart health.

Fear or pain or hurting oneself may also hold you back. There are many aids and gadgets available to ease aches and pains that may arise from exercise including braces, wraps, and orthoses. You’ll especially need to take care of your feet if you have diabetes like 25% of seniors do. If your feet feel the heat when running, find the best insoles for heel pain for some added cushion and relief for your feet.

A plan just for you

Since every person is unique, you’ll need a tailored workout program. Depending on your level of flexibility and mobility, you can walk, run, join senior classes, do water aerobics or yoga, practice tai chi or qi gong, dance, play tennis, play basketball, go swimming, or do all of these. To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy, someone who you like spending time with. Try new activities to keep your brain and body involved. Even if you don’t like a particular activity, you’ll still get to spend some time with a good friend.

Making sure your plan is balancedFind balance to fit your health needs

While doing any physical activity will improve your health, doing new or at least different activities will make sure you cover all the five blocks of fitness:

Concentration and focus:  Exercises like yoga will keep your brain focused and active. Depending on how flexible you are, you can do any easy poses like cobra, down dog, seated twist to advanced poses like power yoga and Bikram yoga. Brain games can also keep your brain guessing and engage your memory.

Balance:  Exercise like tai chi and yoga can help improve balance and become more stable. This not only reduces your risk of falling but can also help improve your posture.

Cardio:  Jogging, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, rowing, and other fast pace exercises use large muscle groups an extended time. You should feel your heart pumping, get short of breath and sweaty. Cardio gradually builds stamina and reduces shortness of breath and fatigue.

Power training:  Exercises that involve lifting weights can help build muscles and prevent bone mass loss. This promotes independence and allows you to do many tasks, such as lifting heavy items or opening a jar, that many other citizens will need help with.

Flexibility:  Stretching exercises and yoga increase your range of motion and encourage your joints to move freely. Doing daily chores, playing with your grandkids, and doing other routine physical activities will be a lot easier as your flexibility increases.

How seniors can stay motivated

Remember these quick tips if your motivation level seems to be going down:

–          Listen to your favorite music while working out

–          Get competitive, especially when playing any sports

–          Socialize and meet new people

–          Keep changing your exercise routine and the type of exercise you do

–          Keep a log of your activity and reward yourself every time you hit a new level

Staying safe

The goal is to get active, but safety always comes first. Start slow and gradually increase intensity and frequency. Consult your doctor before starting a new activity, especially if you have an underlying condition. Listen to your body, you might be sore, feel tightness in the muscles, but it should never hurt. If it does, stop immediately and consult your doctor.

Author: Joe Fleming

Vive Health