Easy Exercises to Keep Seniors Fit

Aches and pains are sneaky reminders of how old we are, and how much we put our bodies through over the course of our lives. They sneak up on us when we wake up and get out of bed each morning, and can attack as we sink into a chair or reach for something on a high shelf. For many, they simply persist throughout the day and we learn to live with them.

While these aches and pains may have many possible origins, one possible way to lessen them is with regular movement and exercise. Other benefits of exercise include the strengthening of already shortening muscles and weakening bones, weight management, and the release of endorphins that keep our moods stable and positive.

Whatever your reason for incorporating exercise into your life, some considerations should be made when doing so. Here, we’ll talk about four different types of exercise to consider adding to your daily routine, as well as notes on their benefits and tips on how to do so safely.

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Endurance/Aerobic (3x/week)

Endurance, or aerobic, exercises are designed to raise the heart rate for a sustained period of time. The benefits of this include a heightened calorie burn, increased metabolism and, if sustained over time in combination with other healthy lifestyle factors, the potential for weight loss.

Activities like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking are all classified as endurance/aerobic exercises. Even activities like yoga or square or ballroom dancing can qualify if done for long enough. While these activities might leave you sore or winded when you first take them up, especially if you’re not accustomed to being active, you’ll notice they get easier over time when done consistently. So stick with them; you’ll feel the results as you go.

Strength (1-2x/week)

Age-related bone and muscle mass loss is something that must be contended with as we grow older. However, exercises designed to cultivate strength can slow this process. Most who are starting out with strength training worry that they’ll hurt themselves using weights; many exercises can be done under the body’s own power, with occasional aid from items you have around the house.

Peak Fitness by Mercola has a wonderful comprehensive set of videos demonstrating safe and low-impact strength exercises that can be done at home with the help of an aide if needed.

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Balance (2-3x/week)

As many of us know, the probability of slip and fall incidents rises with age. For this reason, balance exercises are essential. However, incorporating balance exercises into your day can both reduce the incidence of falls themselves and minimize injury when they do happen.

One easy exercise to safely improve your balance comes from Healthline:

  1. Stand directly behind a sturdy chair, such as a dining room chair that won’t tip easily.
  2. Rest one hand on the back of the chair, and place the other hand on your hip.
  3. Lift your right leg, bending the knee slightly. Hold for a count of 10.
  4. Relax, and do nine more repetitions.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

As your balance improves, do the same move without resting your hand on the back of the chair.

Flexibility (2-3x/week)

Loss of a range of motion in joints can be painful, frustrating, and create limitations for what we’re able to do each day. However, by ensuring that flexibility exercises are a part of the daily routine, these effects can be lessened, leading to better motion, for longer.

Your stretching regimen can and should include two types of stretching: static, designed to be held for 10-30 seconds with the goal of lengthening muscle and the surrounding tissue; and dynamic, those involving motion with the goal of increasing and maintaining a range of muscle in a joint. ElderGym has an excellent overview of how to do these stretches safely and fruitfully.

It’s never too late to take care of yourself and your body through physical exercise. Even with some physical limitations, you can likely reap the benefits of at least one type of activity listed here. In addition to the more explicit physical benefits, remember that regular exercise provides hormonal, neurological, and emotional benefits that can be welcome amidst the many life changes that come with older age. With all these upsides to report, we hope you’ll rush to make these exercises a part of your wellness regimen.

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