Exercise, for the elderly, is an essential way to stay active and healthy. For people looking for a way to live a healthier and more enjoyable life, it is the answer. Nobody is ever too old to incorporate exercise into the daily routine. It is also never too late to reap the rewards. Even if you have never been one to exercise in the past, getting started now can help your golden years last longer, and can help you live stronger.
Benefits of exercise for the elderly
According to the National Institutes of Health, regular exercise can prevent or delay diabetes and heart trouble, and reduce depression, anxiety and arthritis pain. It is also important in helping senior citizens maintain their independence. Exercising 30 minutes per day on most days, preferably each day, is a great way to help the body age gracefully and more healthfully.
Additionally, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises that regular exercise for the elderly helps maintain balance and posture, improves strength, endurance and flexibility, and maintains muscle mass and tone. It’s also good for the body’s joints and for building stronger, more resilient muscles.
Types of exercise for seniors
The key to exercise for seniors is finding something you enjoy and then sticking with it. Senior exercises should include aerobic conditioning, flexibility exercises, strength training and balancing. Ideal senior citizen exercises include:
- Endurance activities. These help to keep the lungs and heart working well. Walking is an ideal choice, as is swimming, using a rowing machine, or biking. Always start with a five-minute warm-up and then build up speed. Follow up the activity with a five-minute cool-down and stretching period.
- Resistance exercises. This type of activity helps to build muscle and strong bones. Your own body weight can be used for resistance by doing chair squats and wall pushups, or you might choose to work with light weights.
- Flexibility movements. Doing stretches will help to keep the body limber and flexible, which will even make it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
- Improving balance. This is an important area for overall health, reducing the risk of falls, and helping maintain independence in senior citizens. Try alternating standing on each leg to practice balance, as well as learning Tai Chi.
More exercise for seniors
Relaxation is another important exercise for seniors. Relaxation techniques are important in keeping high blood pressure and stress at bay. Seniors should engage in activities such as yoga, breathing exercises, journaling, or find another way to relax, to benefit their overall health.
Each day, people can do small things that add up to big changes when it comes to exercise. Carrying the groceries, taking the stairs, working in the garden, and joining a walking club that meets in the city or at the mall for indoor walking are all effective ways to exercise the aging body.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, senior exercise is safe for most people over 65, and many health conditions are improved by it. They also recommend if you are inactive or unsure whether it is safe for you to start an exercise program to first speak with your doctor. Always consult the doctor if, during exercise, there are chest pains or pressure, trouble breathing, or dizziness, difficulty balancing, or nausea.