According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28% of individuals over 50 are physically inactive. This is alarming considering that 4 out of 5 chronic health conditions can be prevented or managed through physical activity.
A report by the World Health Organisation indicated that a staggering 3.2 million deaths are caused by a lack of physical activity. That said, the importance of having an exercise routine for seniors cannot be overstated.
It is crucial to keep in mind that the heart arteries and muscles can become stiff as one gets older. The ligaments that surround the joints can also become less elastic, resulting in increased stiffness and pain.
The Enticing Health Benefits of Exercise in Older Adults
While physical fitness can provide astonishing benefits regardless of age, the enticing health perks enjoyed by physically fit seniors are nothing less than remarkable. Researchers and physicians recommend that seniors should remain as physically active as possible.
However, it is also vital that they do not overexert themselves. Done right, exercising consistently can help older adults live healthier, longer, and more enjoyable lives. Other peerless benefits seniors will enjoy include:
- More independence. According to Harvard Medical School, exercising consistently can help older adults walk, bathe, and use the bathroom independently. For older adults who want to prioritize self-reliance, exercising is one of the best ways to achieve said objective.
- More energy. This might seem counterintuitive but inactivity can make you tired, while being active gives you more energy. Exercise also promotes the release of the feel-good hormone endorphins. Endorphins can also promote better sleep so seniors can feel more energetic and lively.
- Disease prevention. Diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and heart disease are just some of the common conditions older adults suffer from. The good news? Leading an active lifestyle can help keep those dire health conditions at bay.
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Safe, Easy (and Fun!) Exercises for Seniors
For those adults that have not worked out for a while, re-entry into the active world can be nerve-wracking. Fortunately, there is no shortage of safe, easy, and fun exercises they can try.
Water aerobics is one of the most popular forms of exercise for people of all ages. However, many seniors are especially fond of water aerobics, and with good reason. Water aerobics is great for those with arthritis and other forms of joint pain.
Water also brings natural resistance, thereby removing the need for weights when strength training. Water aerobic exercises put minimal stress on the body while improving balance, strength, and flexibility.
Great water aerobics exercises for seniors include:
- Leg lifts
- Arm curls
- Aqua jogging
- Flutter kicking
- Standing water push-ups
Resistance Band Workouts
Using resistance bands is ideal since they are user-friendly, accessible to beginners, and put less stress on the body. Resistance bands are cost-effective and are deemed best for at-home exercises. Using resistance bands can also help improve the posture, strengthen the core, and enhance balance and mobility.
Resistance band workouts for seniors include:
- Triceps press
- Bicep curl
- Band pull apart
- Leg press
- Lateral raise
Chair yoga is another favorite activity among seniors since it is low impact but significantly improves mobility, flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. Compared to the traditional form of yoga, chair yoga places less stress on the bones, joints, and muscles.
You can even do yoga in a wheelchair is you have mobility or balance problems. What’s even more impressive? Chair yoga has also been known to help improve mental health!
Chair yoga exercises for seniors include:
- Seated cow stretch
- Overhead stretch
- Seated cat stretch
- Seated twist
- Seated mountain pose
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Another easy-to-do and low-impact exercise option for seniors is walking. Generally, 10,000 steps per day is recommended for a healthy lifestyle. However, for those who have joint pain or difficulty walking, a smaller goal should suffice.
Aside from being a fun activity seniors can do with their friends and loved ones, walking can also strengthen the muscles and lower the risk of stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, and heart disease.
Walking ideas for seniors include:
- Walking through a moderate trail in a park
- Walking the perimeters of a building
- Listening to audiobooks for added stimulation during walks
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Body Weight Workouts
Muscle loss can be debilitating for older adults. Unfortunately, at least a third of seniors experience severe muscle loss, leading to hormone problems and other issues. One of the best ways to counteract muscle atrophy is through body weight workouts.
Body weight workouts for seniors include:
- Step up
- Bird dog
- Squats to chair
- Side-lying circles
- Lying hip bridges
It is reassuring to know there are many safe, easy, and fun physical activities seniors can engage in to stay healthy and active. However, before launching into any exercise regimen or sport program, they must check with a physician first to be given guidance on the exercises that will fit their current fitness level.
About the Author
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.
No compensation was received for posting this article.