Let’s face it: getting into a regular exercise routine is incredibly difficult. Even though exercising is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health and well being, finding the time and energy for it can seem impossible. Unfortunately, integrating an exercise routine into your life does not get any easier as you get older. Seniors are one of the demographic groups that can benefit most from regular fitness activities, however, which is why finding an exercise routine that works well with a more mature mind and body is so crucial.
Finding the Ideal Senior Fitness Program
Activities like running, rock climbing, weight lifting and CrossFit are wonderful for more youthful bodies, and they can be beneficial to more athletic seniors. However, activities like these place stress and strain on the body that can be unappealing – or even unsafe – for many individuals in the elderly population. That’s why it is so important to be able to find lower-impact fitness activities that are more appropriate for the aging human body.
Following are some examples of low-impact exercises that help keep seniors fit and well:
“Cardio” – short for cardiovascular – refers to fitness activities that help maintain and strengthen the heart and lungs. These exercises can be performed at low or high intensity levels, or at any level in between.
- Swimming and Water Exercise
For those seniors who have access to a well-maintained pool, swimming is one of the easiest and least stressful ways to maintain cardiovascular fitness. Other types of water exercise (link to http://blog.alwaysbestcare.com/the-benefits-of-water-exercise/) can also provide amazing benefits.
When running or jogging becomes too hard on the knees and other joints, walking is a terrific alternative. In addition to improving cardiovascular fitness, walking can strengthen bones and muscles. Moreover, going out for a nice walk increases exposure to fresh air and gorgeous sunshine!
Cycling is another great exercise for maintaining excellent cardiovascular health, and it’s generally pretty easy on the bones and joints, making it a wonderful fitness activity for seniors. Please note that finding a good comfortable fit on your bike can mean the difference between a fitness boost and a sore, achey body.
Strength training refers to fitness activities that make the muscles and bones stronger. For seniors, strength training should involve activities that build muscle power without putting undue strain on the body.
- Body Weight Exercises
Strength training doesn’t have to involve lifting heavy – and possibly dangerous – weights. Instead, seniors can benefit tremendously from performing low-impact exercises that strengthen the body via resistance to its own weight. Examples include squats, pushups, steps, lunges and leg lifts. The best part about these types of exercises? They don’t require any equipment, and they can be performed virtually anywhere.
- Strength-Training Machines
Whether in a gym or at home, fitness machines are perfect for seniors who want to stay in shape because they allow for highly focused, low-impact training of specific muscle groups. Just remember that injuries happen when these machines are not used properly, so instruction for use prior to beginning a workout routine is crucial.
- Resistance Training
Resistance training is becoming increasingly popular among the elderly population because it provides the benefits of weight training with the safety and low impact of body-weight exercises. Using items such as resistance bands, ankle and wrist weights, seniors can improve their strength, balance and flexibility by performing resistance exercises.
Easing Into a Fitness Routine
As you can see, there are a number of exercise options for seniors who want to remain strong and healthy in their golden years. It’s important to remember, though, that lasting fitness is enjoyed when a regular exercise routine is integrated fully into a person’s life. That’s why it’s so critical to ease into a fitness program slowly, paying attention to what works and what doesn’t so that it can become a valued part of daily living.
For seniors who want to become more physically fit and active, starting with a regular, daily walk is a great way to ease into a new routine. Others may find it easier to begin by experimenting with resistance training or other types of exercise that improve strength.
As a general rule, seniors should try to work up to a routine that involves about 150 minutes of exercise each week. This might mean fifteen ten-minute sessions throughout the week, or a half-hour workout each day Monday through Friday. It all depends on the needs and ability of the individual in question. However, the importance of starting slowly cannot be stressed enough. This way, seniors remain more engaged in their fitness, and they’re better able to avoid injuries and other setbacks.
Whether you’re looking ahead to your twilight years, or you’re caring for an aging family member, the best thing you can do is start your own fitness routine today. Learn about low-impact cardio and strength exercises, and integrate those that work for you into your daily life. By doing this, you not only set yourself up for greater fitness as you age, but you inspire those around you to do the same. By sharing these fitness ideas, you can help to create a richer, more fulfilling life for yourself as well as the seniors in your care.
Do you have questions about fitness and exercise routines that work well with the elderly population? Contact Always Best Care today to discuss in-home care options for integrating fitness routines into the lives of today’s seniors.