Best Physical Activities for Seniors
As people get older, they tend to slow down and become more sedentary. There are many reasons this is the case. For some, it could be due to health problems. Other causes include pain issues or worries about falling. However, getting some form of physical activity can be beneficial for seniors. Incorporating a workout plan has the ability to add years to a senior’s life. Here are some of the benefits of physical activity for seniors, and some options to choose from.
Why Physical Activity is Important
Being active has numerous benefits, and this is especially true for older people. One of the most obvious benefits is helping seniors lose or maintain weight. Metabolism naturally slows down as we age, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise counters this by increasing metabolism as well as muscle mass, which helps your body burn more calories. In addition, regular exercise can improve your strength, flexibility, and posture. This, in turn, helps with coordination and balance, reducing the risk of falls.
There are mental benefits to exercise as well. For example, exercise can improve overall sleep quality, helping you fall asleep faster and wake up more energized. Physical activity also boosts self-confidence and your overall mood, while helping to reduce stress levels.
How Much Activity to Get
While it can be difficult to determine how much physical activity seniors need, it’s better to have some exercise than none at all. There are variables to consider when deciding on an exercise program for seniors; those with chronic conditions need to check with their doctor to see if they will impact their ability to exercise safely. According to the CDC, the standard guideline for adults over age 65 is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and 2 days of muscle-building activity per week. The benefits from these exercises can be enhanced with higher levels of time spent increasing or by doing more intense workouts.
What Activities to Choose From
Once you decide to start an exercise program, the next step is determining what activity to participate in. Fortunately for seniors, there is an increasing number of workout options available. Some of these include:
- Swimming. Getting into the pool is a great cardio exercise, and it helps build muscle as well. Incorporating swimming as part of an exercise routine is easy, as it can include anything from normal lap swimming to water aerobics. In addition, there is minimal stress on bones and joints, which can be beneficial to people with arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Yoga. Serving as a more holistic fitness option, yoga can help build muscle, cost stability, and total body mobility. This makes it a fantastic choice for older adults. Yoga is low-impact and gentle on joints, but it also features weight-bearing elements, which is also beneficial for strengthening bones.
- Pilates. Pilates was developed over a century ago and has become a popular choice for people wanting a low-impact workout. Typically, Pilates exercises focus on breathing, alignment, concentration, and core strength. Mats and exercise balls are used to build strength without the effects of higher-impact exercises.
- Walking. For those looking for an accessible workout option, walking can be a perfect option. Health experts suggest that people should get 10,000 steps per day, though, for older people, this can vary due to joint pain or if walking is difficult. The best thing about this exercise is that it can be done just about anywhere. Whether it’s a trail in a park or the perimeter of a building, finding a place to walk is relatively easy. In addition, walkers can listen to music or an audiobook while getting their exercise.
- Strength Training. Incorporating strength training into a workout plan has numerous benefits. In addition to building muscle, it can help alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis, diabetes, and even depression. Strength training can be done individually or as part of a group fitness class. Bodyweight workouts, such as squats, can also be an option, since it’s affordable and can be done anywhere.
If you know an older adult and are looking for a way to incorporate a fitness plan, there are numerous options available. While moderate activities are safe for most people, you may want to check with a medical professional, especially for those with health conditions. There is no wrong time to start a workout plan, and the benefits can help older people feel younger.