10 Easy Exercises for Seniors
Exercise and fitness are important for people of all ages, including senior citizens. Unfortunately, getting enough exercise can be difficult for the elderly. A person’s body breaks down as it ages, and even the simplest physical activity may be too much for some seniors to handle. On the other hand, this is exactly why exercise is so important for the oldest members of our society. Physical activity keeps people healthy, happy and alert well into old age.
Senior citizens will be happy to know that an exercise program doesn’t have to consist of punishing mile-long runs or heavy weightlifting. There are plenty of easy exercises that seniors can do. Here are just 10 physical exercises that practically any senior citizen should be able to do.
The simple act of walking is one of the best low-impact exercises that a person can do. It’s easier on the joints than jogging, and it doesn’t require a lot of planning. Simply make sure that you have comfortable walking shoes that provide plenty of support and cushioning, and keep your back straight and your shoulders rolled back as you walk. Try to increase the time of your walks by a couple of minutes every time until you can take a 60-minute walk without stopping.
Swimming is another great low-impact exercise that can benefit senior citizens. Not only does it improve endurance and flexibility, but there is less of a risk of injury thanks to the relief that the water will provide to your joints and bones. It also conditions your entire body as you move through the water. Most people have a pool in their neighborhood, but if you don’t you can always join a local gym or the YMCA.
Although riding a bicycle may seem like hard work, the truth is that it is another great low-impact exercise that can benefit seniors. The body’s joints absorb minimal shock while pedaling, so it can be great for those struggling with arthritis pain. It can also improve cardiovascular health as well as one’s mood. Riding a bicycle can also help improve the environment and save you money that you might otherwise be spending on gas for your car.
Stretching is recommended for anybody before a workout, but it can still improve flexibility when done on its own. Stretching the upper arms, shoulders, neck, back, legs, ankles, chest and hips regularly is especially beneficial for seniors since we lose flexibility as we age.
Many people consider weightlifting to be a punishing, strenuous activity for young men and women who want to bulk up, but it doesn’t have to be as extreme as people make it out to be. Lifting lighter weights can be a great low-impact exercise that builds muscle and improves one’s overall health. Experts recommend spending 30 minutes working on each muscle group twice a week. Working a muscle group more than that can cause it to be overworked and result in injury.
6. Water Aerobics
Water aerobics have become very popular for seniors who want to combine cardiovascular exercise with strength training. Like swimming, performing aerobics in a pool relieves the stress on the joints. Unlike swimming, it can be done in shallow water even by those who can’t swim.
At one time, yoga was a trendy exercise that was associated with difficult stretches and poses that required one to be young, flexible and in great shape. While yoga can be very intense, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of senior yoga classes out there that keep things simple while still improving flexibility, strength and balance. If you find that you cannot do the more advanced yoga poses, most yoga instructors will be able to provide you with simpler poses that offer the same benefits.
Gardening may not be considered an exercise in the strictest sense. It’s more of an enjoyable physical activity that provides exercise as a side benefit. Still, those who cannot imagine themselves joining a gym or going on long walks or bike rides might still be willing to work on a garden or perform light yard work. Gardening is a fun, relaxing and rewarding hobby that will provide you with plenty of exercise and fresh air.
9. Tai Chi
Tai chi is often compared to yoga in that it is a low-impact meditative exercise that provides strength, flexibility and balance. A typical tai chi exercise involves flowing slowly from one pose to the next while focusing on slowly breathing in and out. The slow movements help to stretch and tone muscles, while the slow breathing helps to reduce stress and improve concentration. Since it’s so easy on the joints and focuses on slow movements, tai chi can be ideal for those who are overweight or have joint pain.
Golf is a popular activity for seniors for good reason. It provides time outdoors, it can be a fun social activity and it provides plenty of low-impact exercise. Swinging a golf club improves physical strength and range of motion, but since a proper golf swing is a smooth, easy movement there isn’t much of a risk of injury. Golf also requires people to walk along the course, something that can improve endurance. If you plan to go golfing, it’s always important to stretch your hips, calves and upper body to prevent injury and improve your game.