It is often wrongly assumed that exercising at an older age can cause damage to muscles and bones. In fact, seniors who maintain a fit lifestyle that incorporates mild and safe exercises tend to be healthier. They are more likely to have a healthy heart, feel more active, and are less dependent on others. When it comes to exercising at an older age, it is important to carefully devise a workout plan. While the right exercises can boost the body, the wrong ones certainly can cause potential damage.
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What Does Fitness for Seniors Include?
There is a range of exercises seniors can engage in, depending on their body’s strength and stamina. Ideally, you should be able to incorporate at least 15 minutes of physical activity into your day, and work out at least 3-4 times a week. Exercises you can engage in can be as simple as walking, cycling, or swimming. You can also engage in some safe workouts. There are several benefits to these:
- Energy – Mild workouts lead to a more active mind and body due to the release of endorphins. This also leads to better sleep and improved stress management.
- Flexibility – As you age, your flexibility tends to decrease. Consistent exercise can prevent or delay this.
- Balance – Older adults often suffer from fall injuries due to a lack of balance. Balance-focused exercises can reduce the chances of this happening.
- Cognitive Functioning – A healthier body leads to a healthier mind. Recent research has also revealed that regular exercise can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in older adults.
Best Exercises for Seniors
Starting a new fitness routine in your old age, especially when you haven’t worked out in a long time, can be daunting. If this is how you feel, walking is a great way to start! It is one of the easiest and the most stress-free forms of exercise, and can do wonders for your physical health. It is ideally recommended that a person walk 10,000 steps a day, but you can reduce this according to your stamina as well as joint health. You can either slow walk or brisk walk, depending on what works better for your body. It can turn into a great socializing activity as well if you find some walking buddies in the neighborhood! Some great ideas are to find a nice trail in a park, or simply walk around the block.
Water exercises are extremely popular with seniors because they target the entire body and help with both strength and flexibility. This makes it ideal for those with arthritis and joint pains, since the water provides support to the body and makes it easier to move. In fact, a study found that elderly women who engaged in water aerobics regularly experienced greater satisfaction and a higher quality of life. With the help of a guide, you can do exercises like aqua walking and leg lifts.
Pilates are among the oldest and the most effective forms of exercise. They help with balance, posture, breathing, and overall body strength. There are different kinds of Pilates and different equipment used. You can make use of yoga mats or inflated balls. Some of the ideal workouts for seniors are side circles, step-ups, and mermaid movement. All of these should be performed under supervision in a guided exercise session.
This is another low-impact exercise that is excellent for increasing flexibility and balance, and is therefore helpful for fall prevention. A study also found that yoga stretches improve overall sleep quality for older adults. For the elderly that can’t take a lot of strain on their legs, chair yoga is ideal. This simply means performing yoga movements while being seated. Some yoga movements that can be done while sitting are overhead stretch, side twists, and even a seated cat stretch.
Research shows that practicing Tai Chi can significantly improve balance and stability. It can help with improved pain, especially knee problems. It has also been found to be effective for seniors with Parkinson’s. Some effective Tai Chi exercises include heel raises, torso twists, and arm raises.
Exercises That Seniors Should Avoid
Fitness for seniors should be focused on low-impact exercises that suit their stamina. They should not be physically draining, drastically increase the heart rate, or cause muscle or joint strain. Some exercises you should certainly avoid if you are over 60 years of age include:
- Bench press
- Squats with heavy dumbbells
- Running for long distances
- High-Intensity Interval Training
Other exercises with similar impact and strain should also be avoided. Depending on health, body weight workouts like step up, chair squats, and hip bridges also help. Seniors should also explore other forms of exercises like workouts with resistance bands and low-weight dumbbells. These along with additional exercise accessories for seniors can be found at Nirvana Fitness, a quality provider of all types of workout equipment and gear.
Ken Zhang, has been involved in the fitness industry for the last 8 years. Ken’s passion for all things fitness, in particular power-lifting and strength training. Ken’s interests in weightlifting and bodybuilding extended to supply of gym equipment to both commercial gyms and to the home enthusiast. Having to source equipment himself, Ken found a gap in the market for decent quality equipment at a reasonable price matched with quality customer service to go with it. Nirvana Fitness was born in 2018.
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