Most people dread the physical ailments that can come with aging, mainly because they can lead to a loss of independence. However, aging doesn’t have to be as intimidating as you may think. If you start to exercise in late adulthood, you’ll still enjoy numerous benefits.
With the right physical activity, you can stay independent — and even prevent some of the wellness problems attributed to aging, from muscle aches and pains to heart attacks and strokes. Keep in mind that the recommended amount of exercise for seniors will vary, so be sure to consult your doctor before creating a fitness routine.
Check out our complete guide of 17 unique physical activities and exercises for senior.
Even the youngest and most disciplined athletes know the human body isn’t built for high-intensity exercise without a proper warm-up. To properly prevent injuries and reduce soreness and muscle tension, it’s essential to include a low-intensity and slow-speed activity at the beginning and end of your workout.
Examples of a proper warm-up and cool-down include brisk walking, stretching and light weightlifting. The time spent during warm-ups and cool-downs counts toward your aerobic activity time — that’s an added incentive to properly prepare your body for physical activity. If you don’t feel up for a full-blown workout session, you can always do a warm-up activity instead.
It’s no secret that walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help prevent a sedentary lifestyle. With benefits including improving heart health, lowering blood sugar and boosting mental health and memory, walking is an important exercise to add to your daily routine.
Aim to add at least 30 minutes of walking to your day to feel the full benefits. Most people find they can easily tackle these 30 minutes just by incorporating them into their daily routine. Try parking your car further away from the store, running errands that require walking like walking up to a cash register or walking around the block with friends or family.
Adding a dance class to your weekly routine can help you maintain an active social life where you meet other like-minded people of the same age as you. It doesn’t matter what kind of style of dance you enjoy best — you’ll boost numerous aspects of your health as a result.
If you aren’t interested in participating in a class or club, you can always enjoy dancing at home. The next time you hear your favorite tune on the radio, try moving along with it. It’s also fun to dance to music while cooking or cleaning, as you’ll pass the time much faster. When it comes to physical activities and exercising for the elderly, moving your body to music is one of the best options.
Swimming can be the perfect exercise for aging adults because it has a low impact on joints and presents little risk of injury. These exercises can work out all the muscle groups in the body, ensuring a complete and balanced workout. Essentially, you get a full-body workout simply by moving around in the water, making it a perfect age-appropriate activity for older adults. From water aerobic exercises to water resistance workouts, the possibilities are endless in a pool.
For more active seniors, jogging may be a beneficial workout option. A recent study found that aging adults who run for at least 30 minutes three times a week are less likely to experience age-related physical symptoms compared to seniors who don’t. Additionally, jogging can even make you happier, especially if you need an excuse to leave the house and be in nature.
Fortunately, you don’t have to jog miles to reap the benefits. Try jogging around the block every morning to work out your body. Treadmills are also great tools to help you exercise even when the weather isn’t so great outside.
Bicycling is an activity that has gained significant popularity among seniors in recent years. Like swimming, it provides a heart-healthy cardiovascular workout that’s also low impact on muscles and joints. Biking is a terrific way to help with managing osteoarthritis, as well.
Be sure to follow the rules of the road and wear a helmet and reflective vest to ensure the safety of you and those around you. Cycling on a stationary machine is a wonderful way to get the benefits of this activity without leaving the house. If you’re concerned about getting into an accident, try an at-home machine instead.
Believe it or not, golfing is one of the top sports for seniors. This sport is an ideal way to work on balance, agility and grip strength while also providing an outlet for seniors to socialize, which strengthens brain comprehension skills. Basically, you get to exercise without feeling like you’re exercising!
Additionally, golf is a fantastic way to improve walking and standing ability, especially when walking between holes without the use of a golf cart, which can lead to greater independence skills later in life. Consider renting a golf cart to give you a place to sit in between holes to ensure you don’t overwork yourself.
Calisthenics is another physical exercise for senior citizens often performed rhythmically with a variety of movements aimed at targeting large muscle groups. When done correctly, it can provide seniors with basic strength improvements that can help to fix posture, increase stability and bone density and prevent falls and injury. This exercise can also increase movement and flexibility in aging adults, which can open the door for more vigorous exercises in the future.
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for older adults because it can improve flexibility and balance while centering around safe, measured movements with little risk of injury. Additionally, senior-focused classes can be designed specifically for aging adults with instructors well-versed in techniques that may be most beneficial to seniors. These classes also provide a great opportunity to socialize with current friends and new people, which can provide mental stimulation and growth.
Overall, it’s a calm, relaxing experience that supports wellness.
Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for the health of aging adults. There are a number of styles of Tai Chi — even those designed specifically for seniors. Tai Chi is performed by slowly moving and breathing through a series of different movements referred to as “Tai Chi form.” Because of its slow and calm nature, it’s ideal for seniors who may have limited movement or stamina.
Benefits of Tai Chi for seniors include the promotion of deep breathing, improvement of lower body and leg strength, easing of arthritis pain and a reduction of blood pressure. Additionally, many Tai Chi classes are held outside in parks and other calming areas. If you want to spend time outdoors while you exercise, you may want to seek out Tai Chi sessions located in nature.
Unfortunately, some seniors don’t have a network of friends they interact with daily or weekly. As we age, it’s easier to lose contact with friends or struggle to make friends entirely, which means older adults often spend time only with their spouses or by themselves. That’s when seniors experience issues like anxiety. A fantastic way to solve this problem is to participate in group fitness classes.
These classes have many benefits — most notably the fact that they help promote social interaction. No matter what type of exercise you’re interested in, group classes give you a chance to branch out. Regularly interacting with others in a group exercise setting can help maintain your optimal mental and emotional wellness.
Additionally, group fitness classes provide you with accountability. It can be easy to give up on exercise goals when you’re the only person doing them. In a group setting, you have peers and instructors who encourage you and hold you accountable along the way, helping you reach your goals faster.
Before long, you’ll have perfected your fitness routine — and made a few friends along the way.
Sometimes, the most beneficial exercises are the least expected. Doing work around the house such as vacuuming, gardening, mowing the lawn, carrying groceries and folding laundry can all provide adequate exercise throughout the day — all while doing chores you need to complete anyway.
Finishing household chores provides physical benefits, such as aerobic exercise, and a number of neurological benefits. In fact, older adults who spend more time on household chores show greater brain activity, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health. Try putting away some dishes to boost physical activity in old age!
Like weightlifting, resistance band training can help you build and tone your muscles but with a lesser chance of hyperextension and injury. These exercises involve the use of large rubber bands that give different amounts of resistance. Using the body’s own strength to perform the exercise, resistance bands are ideal for seniors who are trying to improve their health on a budget.
When exercising with resistance bands, muscles are forced to move against the tension provided by your body weight, which can greatly improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and range of motion. Many resistance band exercises don’t require you to bend down, making them ideal for older adults with mobility struggles. Plus, carrying around resistance bands is much safer than trying to pick up heavy weights.
Another exercise ideal for seniors on a budget is wall sits. Requiring no equipment except for a sturdy wall, wall sits are the perfect exercises for every workout. Whether you’re at a gym or at your house, you can perform wall sits virtually anywhere.
The benefits of wall sits are plenty. When done correctly, these exercises tighten the abs while improving posture and body support — all of which are beneficial to preventing falls and increasing mobility in aging adults. Additionally, wall sits engage leg and thigh muscles and aid in building muscles while burning calories. This combination is ideal for aging adults with slower metabolisms who are still looking to burn fat and increase mobility as they age.
Working with a personal trainer can provide a wide range of benefits to seniors no matter their current athletic ability. These experts are perfect for working with aging adults because they can help them build muscle strength, increase flexibility and coordination and build endurance while tailoring custom plans to fit each client’s needs. Therefore, a personal trainer can create a fitness plan that works just for you.
Having a trainer can help you increase your chances of long-lasting independence. Plus, they’ll be able to hold you accountable throughout your fitness journey. Essentially, you have a friend there to help you work out correctly and achieve your goals.
Meditation has been used as a way to find one’s inner self for thousands of years. With this practice, you train the mind to focus, relax and redirect thoughts, providing you with numerous physical health benefits. When done correctly, meditation aids in reducing blood pressure, regulating cortisol levels, alleviating muscle aches and lowering the risk of stress-like diseases, such as hypertension and high cholesterol.
To try this activity, simply sit in a comfortable, quiet area. Then, slowly breathe in and out while thinking about whatever you like — how your day went, your goals for the next month and more. It’s a perfect time to rejuvenate yourself before or after a workout, or if you don’t plan on exercising that day at all.
While physically active adults often enjoy better mental health as a benefit, it never hurts to support your emotional wellness through other methods.
While stretching is a critical part of the warm-up and cool-down process, it can be a beneficial exercise on its own and is a largely recommended exercise for seniors. This activity helps increase movement in joints and aids in improving posture. It can also help release the muscle tension and soreness that’s often associated with aging.
By stretching major muscle groups for at least 10 minutes two days a week, seniors can see an increase in circulation, muscle control, balance and coordination. Feel free to stretch wherever you like. If your muscles are feeling tight, practice a few simple stretches wherever you are to feel better.
While it is important for seniors to stay active as they age, doing so can be fun! Below are some physical games most seniors can do:
For older adults, physical activity is key. Help ensure you’re taking the action necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly. A regular exercise routine will improve your health both mentally and physically, so you can enjoy each day no matter what your plans are.
Are you interested in beginning your exercise journey? Join 5 Bridges Health & Fitness today to get in touch with a personal trainer who will create a fitness plan specific to you and your fitness goals. Additionally, you can check out our senior fitness classes.