With age comes a greater need to look after your body. Without regular exercise, you can lose muscle mass, balance, dexterity, flexibility, not to mention heart and cardio health, while gaining fat, blood pressure, and increased susceptibility to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Age doesn’t have to take a physical toll on you. There are a few persistent myths that can get in the way of senior health:
- Older adults are too frail or weak to physically exercise.
- Exercise can increase the risk of injury in older adults.
- Only vigorous exercise is worthwhile.
There are some real barriers to exercising for seniors. The fitness industry has largely failed to include or attract older adults, and as sports and fitness activities tend to attract younger people, seniors may not feel welcome.
Low impact exercises are great for seniors and they can demonstrably improve your quality of life. The importance of senior exercise is widely recognized and practiced at senior living residences. For example, senior residences operated by AllSeniorsCare, a Canadian senior living organization, all provide a variety of regular fitness classes and activities that keep residents active and engaged.
Wherever you live, you should find out about joining in fitness classes for some of the best exercises for seniors:
1. Leg Raises
Leg raises are an effective exercise for both balance and leg muscles. Seniors can support their balance simply with a chair or another support to reduce risks.
Leg raises help improve muscles in the lower back, thigh, hip, and buttocks. As you hold the back of a chair for support, slowly lift one leg behind you with a straight back and a slight bend in your supporting leg. Hold for a moment before lowering and repeat 10 times.
2. Yoga for Seniors
Yoga for seniors is a great way to focus on improving balance and flexibility. Yoga for seniors is sometimes called “chair yoga,” because older, less flexible adults can find it easier to use a chair to help them balance. Chair yoga helps seniors loosen up and stretch muscles, reducing stress and improving blood circulation while you’re at it.
3. Tai Chi
Tai Chi helps seniors focus on their movements, breathing, and presence of mind. Practicing Tai Chi is all about integrating body and mind, addressing both physical and mental health. It can improve mood and help seniors focus more on their movements, reducing fall risks as they become more cognizant of and confident in their ability to balance.
Studies show that practicing Tai Chi can reduce fall risks by 45%, but even more important is how Tai Chi can help seniors get over their fear of falling. Tai Chi helps seniors feels firmer on their legs and more confident.
Don’t discount the health benefits of walking! Some of the health benefits of walking include:
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Strengthening muscles, joints, and bones
- Improving your mental well-being
- Preventing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease
5. Brain Exercises
Fitness doesn’t stop with the body. Exercising your brain is all about preventing cognitive decline. Puzzles, crosswords, artistic pursuits, online games, and even Bingo are all effective ways to keep your brain working and active. Stimulating the mind is essential for boosting your memory.
Senior exercise is about improving your quality of life, both body and mind.