No matter your age, exercising regularly offers countless benefits. Exercise is key to a healthy heart, strong bones, and increased flexibility, making everyday tasks much easier to complete. For seniors, exercise provides additional benefits; for instance, regular exercise can protect from chronic diseases, improve mobility and lower the risk of a fall.
By the time adults enter their forties, they start losing around three-to-five percent of their muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life. Muscle is what keeps us strong, contributing to our bone strength and balance. Without it, our mobility and independence can become compromised.
Along with the physical benefits exercise provides, studies have also revealed that after just a few weeks of exercise our brain neurons increase. These special cells in the brain perform all the necessary functions to keep you alive and well, plus they keep our minds clear and aid in memory. Researchers found that when individuals incorporate exercise like walking into their daily routines, the occurrence of dementia was around 35 percent lower than those seniors who do not participate in any regular physical activity.
Seniors of any health or fitness level can easily add exercise into their daily routines. Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle, especially for those over 50, can lead to a loss of independence. Your current physical health should not discourage you from exercising, as there are a variety of safe exercises for seniors that allow you to start off slowly, even while sitting in a chair, and gradually increase your strength and endurance.
Before starting any new senior fitness program, consult with your doctor to get proper clearance for getting started. This is especially important if you currently have any pre-existing conditions that could threaten your health. The next step is determining what your workout goal is. Do you need to improve your strength and mobility? Perhaps you would like to drop a few pounds or be able to walk a full mile without stopping. Setting a goal will help keep you motivated throughout your workouts, especially when you begin seeing some results!
A few of the best exercises for seniors include:
Chair Exercises. Chair exercises can be done safely while seated, allowing you to build and tone muscle, lubricate the joints and increase circulation. Those with limited mobility will find chair exercises offer a perfect way to incorporate a little physical activity into their daily routine.
Water Exercises. Swimming is a complete body workout that helps improve heart health, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and improves your muscle strength and flexibility. It’s a low impact workout that is gentle on sore or aching joints and presents little risk of injury.
Core Exercises. Every move you make uses your core muscles – the muscles of your abdomen, back and spine. Without a strong core, you’re more at risk for injuries from a fall due to poor balance and mobility. Core exercises for seniors help prevent those injuries, improve body strength and mobility, and also make it easier to complete those daily tasks.
Balance Exercises. For those struggling with arthritis, low or high blood pressure, heart disease or medication side effects, balance exercises allow you to remain steadier on your feet. Maintaining balance and stability are key to preventing senior falls, which are the number one cause of accidental injury among older adults.
Stretching Exercises. Being flexible means you have a better range of motion, allowing you to easily complete daily tasks like making the bed or bending down to pick up something off the floor. Stretching exercises keep you flexible and improve your overall athleticism! Staying limber and flexible as you age is important to remaining as independent as possible.
Strength and Endurance Exercises. Even just a minor improvement in your muscle mass can result in a noticeable difference in your strength. You’ll have more endurance to do things like go on long walks, go up and down a flight of stairs, or even simply get in and out of a car. Strength training also helps provide relief from chronic pain.
Start off any new exercise routine slowly, building strength, flexibility and endurance as you go. Remember, it’s never too late to start engaging in a workout regimen; the key is to find an exercise you enjoy and start at a level that is easy to maintain.
At Advent Christian Village, members are provided access to a variety of health and wellness programs at The Copeland Community Center. Seniors of all lifestyles and fitness levels can enjoy the heated swimming pool and spa, tennis courts, strength-building equipment and more. Plus, a professionally-trained staff is available to personalize a fitness program that meets individual goals and needs. Contact us today for more information.