6 Ways Seniors Can Stay Fit
Growing older is a natural part of life. However, getting older isn’t the same as becoming frail or feeble. Today’s seniors have an array of fitness and wellness opportunities available to them. There are so many great ways to stay fit as you age, that you don’t have any excuses for avoiding them. If the idea of growing older has you concerned about your fitness levels, these suggestions can help ease those fears and improve your outlook.
1. Join a Fitness Club
Fitness centers give you access to specialized equipment, pools, and classes that can challenge you. Most fitness enthusiasts are very accommodating, and some of the regulars are sure to help you get settled in. If you prefer to exercise with others your own age, most gyms have specialized programs for older adults and seniors. A few of the options you might see include:
- Water aerobics
- Chair or gentle yoga
- Silver Sneakers or BOOM classes
- Tai chi and Qigong
- Aqua yoga
- Ballroom dancing
- Zumba Gold
2. Do Activities You Enjoy
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities each week. That equates to about 30 minutes every day. You don’t have to do high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, they can do more harm than good for a lot of seniors. The best way to stick with a fitness routine is to do exercises you enjoy.
Swimming is an excellent moderate-intensity exercise. It can be a good option for people who have bone loss or osteoporosis since the water acts to support your body and reduce weight-bearing. If there isn’t a community or public pool in your area, consider adding one to your own yard. You might be pleasantly surprised at how affordable inground pool prices can be. The easy access provided by a backyard pool will help you stay motivated and maintain your fitness levels.
Walking is another great activity. It helps build cardiovascular function while also increasing strength in your legs and hips. It also helps keep joints like your knees and hips loose and flexible and can improve your range of motion even when performed at a leisurely pace. Start out by walking on even surfaces like a track or well-maintained sidewalk. You can always add hills or uneven terrain to challenge yourself as you grow stronger.
3. Focus on Flexibility
Flexibility training is especially important for older adults and seniors. It can help preserve or even increase your range of motion. That means you will be better able to perform routine activities like reaching for an item overhead or getting up and down from the floor. Stretching is a big part of flexibility training, but it also includes exercises like yoga and tai chi that cover everything from meditation to strength training. Foam rollers are another great way to promote flexibility and break up soft tissue obstructions. Be sure to learn proper techniques to avoid common foam rolling mistakes that can stress your joints.
4. Make Time for Strength Training
Many seniors skip the strength training, which is a big mistake. Strength training is often associated with lifting weights, but it isn’t limited to it. There are many different types of resistance tools. Bodyweight exercises also offer an excellent way to challenge muscles when done properly. Even walking can be considered strength training since it is a weight-bearing activity. Whether you are turned off by a preconceived image of bodybuilders or you falsely believe that muscle loss is an inevitable part of aging, it is time to rethink your training regimen.
5. Practice Mindfulness
If you think that mindfulness is full of hoo-doo stuff, that is not entirely true. In fact, there is a growing body of scientific research on how mindfulness practices can benefit you and improve your overall fitness of body, mind, and spirit. At its most basic, mindfulness is simply the act of being fully aware of the present moment. It has been shown to improve immune function, slow aging at the cellular level, and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It also may help slow cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Develop Social Connections
Social isolation is a serious problem among older adults, but it is also one that is often overlooked. It can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, decreased functional ability, and an overall decline in fitness. Seeking out opportunities for social engagement can help you avoid those consequences. Look for volunteer opportunities in your community, participate in activities at the nearby recreation center, or join the local senior center to find constructive ways to stay engaged. Homebound seniors can benefit from friendly visits and homebound meal delivery programs.
Stay Motivated to Stay Fit
It is important to maintain your fitness as you grow older. Finding activities you enjoy, joining a fitness center, and improving your strength and flexibility are all important.
However, fitness shouldn’t be limited to your physical body. Look for activities that encourage social engagement, mindfulness, and personal growth to improve your overall well being.
How do you stay fit as you age? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page. We want to hear from you!
Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, beauty, and fashion. As well, when she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.
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