As you get older, it can be easy to lose motivation when it comes to physical exercise. Your knees don’t bend as well as they once did, and your breath seems to slip away more quickly than when you were younger! But it’s just as important, if not more so, for seniors to get regular exercise as it is for younger generations.
Regular exercise a few times a week is essential for seniors to stay healthy and keep moving. There are lots of benefits that accompany daily exercise for older adults, including an increased metabolism, more control over weight, reduced impact of illnesses and chronic diseases, and enhanced mobility and overall strength.
Daily exercise can even improve your memory and cognition, helping you maintain independence as you get older. It’s never too late to try new things and incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It might be more fun than you think — and open you up to new opportunities that you didn’t have before!
How much exercise should a senior get?
The CDC recommends that adults over the age of 65 get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, and two or more days devoted to strength training each week.
There’s no set rhyme or rhythm to what you can do to fulfill these health goals. Aerobic exercises are activities that increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping. Moderate aerobic exercise might include walking for one hour, while vigorous aerobic exercise might mean jogging for 30 minutes.
Weight training doesn’t only mean lifting dumbbells at the gym—although that would work, too! Weight training includes anything that involves resistance, such as situps and pushups, working with resistance bands, or holding yoga poses.
There are tons of options available to you that can fulfill these weekly exercise quotas. It all depends on your own level of health and fitness. Here are five ways seniors can stay fit!
1. Walking or Hiking
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a consistent workout schedule, walking can be a great way to get your body used to physical activity again. Taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, or exploring a local hiking trail, can be a fun way to leave the house and get your body moving. This aerobic exercise in particular is great for improving heart and lung health, and walking can help clear a cluttered mind.
Walking and hiking are workouts that are fun to do with others. Grab your spouse or a close friend, and spend some quality time together while getting in your cardio for the week!
Gardening is an extremely rewarding way for seniors to stay fit that can quickly become a loved hobby. Spending time in the yard is a great way to get some fresh air while being active, and fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy addition to any meal. Heavy digging, shoveling, and moving objects can even help fulfill strength training goals!
If you have bad joints, and the idea of kneeling down seems too difficult, try starting with raised garden beds and potted plants. This way, you can still reap the health benefits of gardening without hurting your knees or other joints.
3. Water Aerobics or Swimming
Swimming and water aerobics are a wonderful way to increase your heart rate and work your muscles without fear of injury. The water makes exercise easier on your joints, and the added resistance works all major muscles groups, focusing on core strength.
Joining a water aerobics class can help you stay motivated during your workouts and can contribute toward both cardio and strength training goals for the week. Integrating swimming and water exercises into your routine can also help increase bone density, which reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Dancing is a fun way for seniors to stay fit! Not only does dancing increase your heart rate; it also improves balance and coordination. According to a study conducted by the NCBI, regular dancing helped senior adults increase strength, mobility, balance, flexibility, and quality of life. It also helped decrease their risk of falls due to the increased motor skills they gained as a result of dancing.
Enrolling in a dance class with a partner, such as tango or ballroom, can be a great date-night idea that you both benefit from! Or, try joining a Zumba class with some friends for a more upbeat, fast-paced workout.
Yoga is an excellent strength training workout that leaves you feeling refreshed and relaxed! Similar to dancing, yoga works to increase coordination, balance, and stability. Added benefits include improved flexibility and joint health, enhanced respiration, and lowered blood pressure.
Committing to a regular yoga class will strengthen and tone your muscles, while restoring balance and flexibility to your joints. Find peace of mind while getting in a workout!
As a senior adult, you don’t have to let your age limit the things your body can do. It’s never too late to keep trying new things, and a steady routine of healthy eating and exercise will help you achieve your goals. You only get old when you stop, so don’t slow down now!
With two locations in Lafayette, Indiana, the Lafayette Family YMCA is a community committed to healthy living and social responsibility. For more fitness tips and to stay up to date about YMCA events, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, or visit our website.