Fighting Fit: The 4 Best Exercises for Seniors
Keeping physically active as an older adult is extremely important to your overall health and well-being. Exercising puts a spring in your step, both physically and emotionally, while keeping many diseases at bay, including dementia.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends four types of exercise for seniors to help retain independence and combat health issues through the aging process.
- Strength training:
Lifting weights or doing light weight repetitions helps keep both weight and blood sugar in check, builds muscle and helps increase metabolism. In addition, strength training can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic illnesses, such as arthritis. Incorporating 30 minutes of strength training into your routine as little as twice a week, can have a positive impact on your ability to perform everyday activities like climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Remember to alternate muscle groups, as the same muscles should not be fatigued two days in a row. It is also important that you control your breathing during exercise and use smooth steady movements.
- Balance exercises:
According to the NIH, U.S. hospitals have 300,000 admissions for broken hips each year, many of them seniors falling and resulting in fractures. Balance exercises help build muscle, which helps prevent falls, while increasing the ability to rise from a chair and walk. The body’s balance system promotes cooperation between the brain, nervous system, muscles and bones which ultimately increases strength and stability. Practiced daily, balancing exercises will generate positive results.
- Stretching exercises:
Stretching exercises alone will not improve strength or endurance. However, stretching gives you more freedom of movement and flexibility, allowing you to be more active in your senior years. It is important to warm up with light walking or arm pumping before going into a stretch. Stretching should be done daily to effectively improve flexibility.
- Endurance/Cardio exercises:
Build up your endurance gradually, starting with as little as 5 minutes of cardio at a time. As your endurance improves you can increase the time. Cardio exercises include any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Walking or even raking leaves is considered an endurance activity.
It’s never too late to improve your health, even if you’ve had an inactive lifestyle for quite some time. Aging should not mean that you have to lose strength or ability to do everyday tasks. Chair bound seniors face greater challenges, but there are chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone and stimulate your cardiovascular health. Before taking part in any exercise routine, it is recommended that you first consult your physician.
Healthy living is a key component of Paradise Living Centers’ philosophy. Learn more about our healthy living practices here.