Regular exercise is important for people of all age groups to ensure they stay fit and healthy. For seniors, however, pursuing an active lifestyle is critical as it gives many health benefits and helps maintain their independence. It is crucial for older adults to include some strength and mobility workouts in their everyday routine to keep their bodies working properly and avoid the risk of falls and accidents.
Let’s explore some key benefits of maintaining senior fitness and a few exercises that must be included in your senior fitness workout program.
There are many compelling reasons for seniors, regardless of their age, to pursue a tailored fitness program. However, here are three key benefits of regular exercise that should be convincing enough for them to start working out.
Studies show that seniors who make exercise a part of their everyday routine don’t often have to depend on others for their routine activities. Regular exercise improves the ability of older adults to walk, cook, eat, bathe, dress up, and use the restroom without anyone’s assistance. So, if you want to become self-reliant, regular exercise should be your best option to maintain your independence.
When you grow older, you become more prone to falls and injuries. Older adults are admitted to an ER more frequently due to fall-related injuries than younger people. The fall-related fatality rate is also significantly higher in seniors. While preventing falls can be complex, regular exercise helps improve balance and reduces the risk of falls and injuries by 23%.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, longer periods of inactivity make you feel tired, and keeping yourself active gives you a push of energy. Even if you have a short workout session, it releases endorphins in the body – the essential neurotransmitters linked with pain mitigation and overall well-being. Endorphins fight stress hormones and improve your sleep. As a result, you feel more energetic and lively throughout the day.
With these benefits in mind, let’s explore some low-exertion exercises that should be part of your senior fitness workout program.
It is important for seniors not to perform exercises that are too demanding for their muscles and body. They should start with low-impact exercises that can help keep their body moving and achieve the desired benefits.
Here are 7 exercises that make a good fit for a workout program designed for seniors.
Water aerobics has gained popularity among people of all age groups in recent times. However, it has become a preferred exercise for seniors in particular. Older adults with arthritis or any other type of joint pain can safely work out in the water. That’s because the buoyancy of the water ensures they don’t put much stress on their joints. Furthermore, water offers natural resistance, and you don’t need weights to perform strength training workouts. Water aerobics exercises like aqua jogging, leg lifts, flutter kicking, and arm curls help boost your strength, balance, and flexibility without putting much stress on the body.
Many may not consider it an exercise, but brisk walking is a kind of aerobics tailor-made for the elderly. When you walk briskly, you exert a small amount of pressure on your joints and increase your heart rate. Your muscles get to work, and joints like the ankles and knees also take the pressure. Brisk walking helps the elderly improve their posture as it keeps the shoulders and back straight. In fact, it is better than jogging because it doesn’t put as much strain on the joints.
Balance is crucial for the elderly, and they can improve it through squats. Squats don’t need anything more than your own body weight to perform the workout. To perform squats, lower your body slightly and hold yourself in a semi-sitting position. Make sure your back is kept straight as you do so. If you can’t do it on your own, seek help from someone around you. For best results, you must squat with a correct posture. If you find squats a bit difficult, sit in a chair and slowly get up with your hands kept parallel to the ground. Just don’t hold onto anything for support as you do so.
Workouts using resistance bands – the rubber strips that stretch out and offer resistance for workouts – are becoming popular among the elderly as they reduce stress on the body. These workouts are often user-friendly, and even beginners can do them to perfection. For senior fitness, workouts like leg presses, lateral raises, bicep curls, and band pull apart can be a good choice. They will help strengthen their core and improve posture, balance, and mobility.
Chair yoga is another low-impact workout option for seniors. It helps boost muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility. All these are crucial aspects for seniors to maintain good health and an independent lifestyle. Chair yoga workouts can include overhead stretch, seated cat stretch, seated cow stretch, and seated twist, among several others. All these moves don’t put much stress on your muscles, bones, and joints.
Cycling is a good exercise to put your larger muscles to work, including the hamstrings and quadriceps. Whether you use a stationary bike or go cycling outdoors, it will help improve blood flow and can be demanding for your lungs and heart. Similar to other cardio workouts, in case of repeated demands, the body increases its capacity to adapt to the new requirement by tolerating the additional load.
Lifting small weights helps seniors strengthen their muscles. Strength training is equally important for seniors as for younger individuals. Holding small dumbbells, you should lift your arms above the shoulders before lowering them down to where you started. This exercise will help strengthen the shoulders and upper back.
Regular exercise is important to maintain senior fitness, and you should include the exercises described above in your daily fitness routine. It will help you live a healthy and independent life. Remember, however, that seniors should only choose low-impact exercises that they can easily perform without risking injuries or elevating joint pain. Participate in a senior fitness workout program or, at least, start with the exercises listed above and experience the benefits.