Exercise is vital for seniors, but it can be difficult to know which exercises to begin with and concentrate on. Becoming active again can be challenging for an older adult who hasn’t worked out in a while. There’s also a strong possibility that the exercises they were once accustomed to are no longer suitable because of the natural physical changes that accompany aging. Here are five simple and safe exercises for seniors (be sure to check with a doctor to ensure they are healthy enough for exercise and to get their doctor’s recommendation on which activities are best based on their current fitness level).
Exercising in the water is ideal for seniors with arthritis and other types of joint pain because water’s buoyancy minimizes joint stress. Water also brings natural resistance, eliminating the need for weights or other equipment used for strength training. Water aerobics improves flexibility, strength, and balance with minimal stress on the body.
Chair yoga is another low-impact type of exercise that improves flexibility, balance, mobility, and muscle strength, all of which are crucial to the good health of seniors. It is a form of yoga that is less stressful on joints, bones, and muscles than more conventional forms of yoga. Chair yoga has also been shown to improve mental health and sleep, lower depression, and increase seniors’ sense of well-being.
Pilates is a popular form of exercise developed over a century ago. It is also low-impact and emphasizes breathing, concentration, alignment, and core strength. Equipment used in pilates involves pilates balls, mats, and other inflated accessories which help build strength without the stress of high-impact exercises. It has proven effective increasing flexibility, improving balance, and developing core strength in older adults.
One of the most accessible and least stressful forms of exercising is walking. It is a bigger challenge for some seniors than others, so step goals, pace, and distance will differ for each individual. Generally, 10,000 steps per day is advised, but that can be adjusted for those with joint pain or who have difficulty walking. This popular form of exercise for seniors lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer.
Body Weight Workouts
Body weight workouts are one of the best ways to counteract the effects of muscle loss for seniors, which can lead to hormone problems, a decreased ability to metabolize protein, and other physical problems. These workouts counteract muscle atrophy, and they’re affordable, considering most workouts only require workout clothes and a mat to soften the impact on the floor.
Exercises Seniors Should Avoid
Many popular mainstream workouts are not ideal for older adults. They’re well-suited for younger adults looking to bulk up or shed weight in a hurry, but they can put an unhealthy strain on older adults with joint pain, posture problems, or balance issues.
Those over age 65 should probably avoid the following exercises:
- Squats with dumbbells or weights
- Bench press
- Leg press
- Long-distance running
- Abdominal crunches
- Upright row
- High-intensity interval training
- Rock climbing
- Power clean
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