Physical activities are often promoted for healthier well-being, most especially for young people. However, studies claim that regular exercises for seniors are equally beneficial to their heart functions and the entire system.
Older adults whose age is not more than 65 years old should not be afraid to exercise for physical activities could help them prevent chronic illnesses. Moving constantly may also protect them from diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, joint issues, and heart disease.
Generally, exercises for seniors improve mental and physical health. A journal in the National Library of Medicine implies how exercises for seniors produce boost both balance and gait. It also notes how arthritis patients who had the condition for a long time enhanced their mobility through exercises. Thus, seniors should not be afraid to engage in physical activities.
Different kinds of exercises for seniors
When older adults engage in light to moderate workouts and strength training weekly, they prevent health problems and maintain independence. Four crucial areas have to be the focus of exercises for seniors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests the following priority:
Balance prevents falls, which, unfortunately, happens to lots of older adults. When not given enough attention, this could have serious consequences in the future. To focus on this aspect, lower-body strength exercises are the best for seniors.
Endurance, or sometimes called aerobic, increases the breathing and heart rate. Achieving this at least 150 minutes a week is ideal for the body. This doesn’t only improve fitness but also helps older adults stay productive at home. Exercises that promote endurance also improve the lungs, heart, and overall, circulatory system.
Flexibility often becomes difficult for people as they age, more so with older adults. When this is integrated into exercises for seniors, they get to practice moving freely so that reaching down things or looking over their shoulders won’t be a struggle in the long run. Inner thigh, back, and ankle stretches are the typical flexibility exercises for seniors.
Strength training shouldn’t be exclusive to young adults and bodybuilders, but for seniors too! Exercises with this particular aim build stronger muscles that are the backbone to completing errands and chores independently. Among the exercises for strength are arm curls, weight lifting, wall push-ups, and bodyweight routines.
What to remember before doing exercises for seniors
Older adults over 65 should stay active daily. Whatever activity they can do without straining is purposeful, it could also be light. They can observe 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts at least twice a week.
Best exercises for seniors
Exercising sees no age. It becomes increasingly necessary as a person gets older. A regular physical routine is of course no magic to restore youth, but it is one of the most powerful efforts that could help one feel younger and healthier.
Walking is probably one of the most underrated exercises of all. If people only knew that exercising starts from moving one foot in front of the other, they’d not skip a day.
Older adults live longer and independently when they walk regularly. This low-impact activity goes a long way. It strengthens the muscles and bones, keeps off the weight, and lowers the risk of colon cancer, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
(2) Resistance Band Workouts
Resistance band workouts are the best strength training. These enhance the muscles, and endurance of the body with the use of elastic bands.
With this routine, seniors need various sizes of rubber bands. They come in different colors showing how heavy they are. The effect of these bands is close to hand weights. Generally, they are easy to carry. You can use them at home or in the park. There’s no gym membership required!
In resistance band training, the muscles work against tension. Incorporating this on senior adults’ daily workout regimen boost their balance, strength, flexibility, coordination, and overall range of motion.
(3) Stretching Exercises for Seniors
Older adults can still regain flexibility even after the age of 60. This doesn’t mean doing splits though, but the freedom to move without feeling any pain. As you age, you’d notice some tasks become difficult to do, one perfect example is bending down, or even reaching above. There will be changes in your joints, as they don’t feel the same.
The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons supports that the connective tissues and ligaments in the bones lose their elasticity and reduce their mobility as you age, and this greatly affects flexibility. With this said, stretching exercises for seniors contribute to preventing injury, improving posture, and maintaining mobility.
Stretching doesn’t need to be taxing. Seniors can focus on their major muscle groups and work them out for around ten minutes, at least twice or thrice a week. Stretch the neck, shoulder, upper arm, chest, ankle, hamstring, hip, quadriceps, and lower back!
(4) Chair Yoga
Chair yoga exercises are sustainable, thus, seniors should consider them in their routine. They are the best choice for elderlies who are not a fan of high-impact movements like plyometrics, weight lifting, and running. Chair yoga is gentle on the joints, and it leads to other types of exercise that you can try in the future.
Another best feature of chair yoga is that it’s friendly for any fitness level. It is advisable for active seniors who don’t have a problem exercising, and for older adults who are still recovering from a recent injury.
Do you need a chair to perform this yoga? While it’s true that this exercise is low-risk and low-impact, using the right equipment is essential to avoid injuries.
(5) Pilates Exercises for Seniors
Pilates is an effective full-body, yet low-impact workout that aligns the structure of the body. This practice doesn’t choose ability, age, or condition. It is flexible enough to meet where you are in terms of strength and skill. So, it is an exercise for everyone.
Studies support the effects of Pilates in the body including bone density, balance and stability. Since the priority of this exercise is on controlled breathing, and quality of movement, this workout is safe for older adults who want to stay active and moving.
Taking private classes with a trained Pilates teacher is advisable to fully benefit from this exercise. The best kinds for seniors are the Mat Pilates and the Reformer or Apparatus. The earlier is more accessible and affordable than the latter.
More exercises for seniors
(6) Body Weight Exercises for Seniors
Exercises for seniors don’t have to be complicated. They can perform them at home without any equipment or machine – just their body weight. These routines are useful as they improve mobility and strength.
Mayo Clinic supports the use of body weight in resistance exercises. It’s strength training that can be as equally effective as free weights and machines. Examples of bodyweight exercises are lunges, squats, pushups, situps, step-ups, and planks.
(7) Upper Back Stretch
American Chiropractic Association or ACA revealed that back pain is the second common problem among seniors who visit their office. Arthritis, weight, stress, and bad posture trigger this condition.
With this in mind, it is just right for seniors to undergo exercises that take care of their precious backs. They can perform simple upper back stretching, but for older adults with a back issue, it is highly recommended to seek the advice of a doctor or physical therapist before giving it a go.
(8) Dancing Exercises for Seniors
Seniors might find dance classes enjoyable as they could give them independence. This may also serve as social support so that they wouldn’t feel isolated and alone in their home. Dancing is the best activity for elderly adults who don’t have an overly active lifestyle before committing to an exercise routine.
Mobility and balance issues are the usual problems of seniors. They increase the chances of injury and instability. Salsa dancing, for example, may seem to be intense at first, but it could be the answer to mobility problems. Reports say that 92% of seniors who enrolled in an 8-day dance program improve their balance and mobility.
(9) Water Aerobics
Water aerobics are effective in building lean muscle mass and increasing strength or healing from injury. These exercises relieve their joint pain and arthritis as they increase the density of their bones.
Water aerobics are aqua jogging, flutter kicking, leg lifts, standing water push-ups and arm curls. Exercising in the water can be challenging for there’s resistance, and that’s when strength training comes in without the use of heavyweights.
(10) Stair Climbing
Stair climbing can be an effective exercise for seniors too. Sports published a study in 2009 indicating that climbing stairs consume at least 8 to 10 times the energy that’s needed in the resting state. Hence, suggesting that it becomes a health initiative all over the world.
This exercise burns more calories than walking and running according to claims. It does because this activity involves abdominal muscles, and activates organs. Doing this movement regularly also minimizes the risk of ankle, leg and knee injuries. You can achieve these benefits without the need for equipment or machines.
Benefits of exercises for seniors
These physical exercises for seniors have shown tremendous health benefits. It’s crucial for adults to regularly move and include physical activities in their daily lives. As aging may naturally cause a decline in their body systems and functions, incorporating exercises can improve their quality of life, both mentally and physically.
Build bone density
- Many exercises, especially for seniors, target the legs, lower spine, and hips so that they can still walk and move independently. Walking, for example, helps slow down the loss of bone minerals. Adults who regularly walk have stronger bones because they can carry their weight and remain flexible, as needed.
Reduce memory loss and dementia
- Older adults who keep themselves active by climbing up even a short flight of stairs or carrying pots during gardening improve their cognitive function. Doing these activities regularly stimulates their memory and constantly improves their hand and body coordination. Due to this, there’s a lower risk for memory loss or forgetfulness. Adults who aren’t stuck in bed or their chair have their blood flowing throughout their body and brain which makes them mentally sharp.
Avoid or delay age-related illnesses
- Physical activities easily help improve the overall immune system for any adult, especially for seniors. Ask any doctor and they would recommend any individual to exercise as part of their health management plan. Older adults would often have a more compromised immune system so adding even a few minutes of dancing in a day can help prevent risks of diabetes and respiratory diseases.
Why older adults should move more
Exercising may not be a solid option for all older adults out there, but at the end of the day, the idea is simple – it is to move more and sit less. It’s better to have a less impactful, yet consistent physical activity than none. Sitting less does the trick. Going from moderate to vigorous exercises for seniors may be an effective phasing.
Increase life expectancy
Because exercises for seniors help avoid age-related illnesses and improve their immune system, more years can be added for them to enjoy good health. What would have been just a few years left for them due to being sickly and weak becomes longer, healthier, stronger, and more satisfying life in their golden years? Physical exercises may just be the key to living longer that your elederly family members need!
Improve quality of life
Active individuals, including seniors, have stronger mental, physical, and even social health. It’s good for grandmothers, for instance, to maintain strong social connections with a small group of close friends. Also, good relationships with family and a happy home encourage them to enjoy life. All these essentially come hand in hand. For example, cooking in the kitchen makes them feel useful. Playing with their grandchildren forces them to move and, therefore, helps avoid for them to feel alone.
Don’t expect them to be like athletes (but, hey, there are a few centenarians who can be as strong as a horse, as they say) when they exercise. The goal is to get moving. Get fit. Seniors can go from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one, one step at a time. It’s never too late, really, no matter how inactive they have been for years.
Adding even one moderate exercise for a day can make a huge difference. It may even be the very reason that extends and adds quality to their life. So, for the young ones out there, provide a strong support system to the seniors as much as you can! You can do these exercises with them as your bonding time, too. Live longer, happier, and healthier now!
For the younger ones who want to get started with a fit and active lifestyle now, Cognitive and Health Wellness Institute also has a list of lower body exercises and upper body exercises you can try at home.