Exercise tips for seniors
As an older adult, one of the things that you should take into focus is your physical health.
As your body goes through adulthood and well into the golden years, it can go through a difficult transition, and getting used to those changes can be stressful.
Our bodies become slower, so it gets more challenging or painful for us to move, and overall physical activity becomes more dangerous due to the risk of falls. Oftentimes, these changes hinder people from being physically active, especially in later years.
That said, physical fitness is crucial for people over 65. Multiple studies have confirmed that being physically fit can delay the onset of certain conditions that commonly occur in people at that age. But what are the other reasons why seniors need physical fitness?
Why is exercise important for older people?
The short answer to this question is that being physically fit can increase our lifespan and quality of life. It’s a vital thing, especially if you want to be independent during your twilight years and don’t go to the emergency room often. That said, being physically fit has several benefits for older people. Getting your heart rate up and challenging your muscles helps various systems in your body and improves your physical and mental health in many different ways. Here are some of them.
1. Better cardiovascular health
As we age, many of our muscles weaken, including our hearts. By introducing exercise to your life, you can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, strokes, and other heart diseases that are very common for people of old age.
While having a weak heart doesn’t necessarily mean you will fall victim to some dangerous condition, you wouldn’t want to risk it, right? If you want to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, you might want to start exercising now.
2. Reduces anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are prevalent in older adults. Many seniors constantly deal with social withdrawal, illnesses, and even disabilities, all of which make them isolated most of the time. This is especially true for people with survivor’s guilt, which is common among veterans.
That said, by moving your body around, you can experience a few cognitive benefits like reducing symptoms and bouts of anxiety and depression and reducing the risk of relapse to these emotions.
3. Helps with flexibility
As an older adult, you might find it gets harder and harder for you to just move around, especially because you’re not as flexible as you once were. Even leaning down can be hard and painful at a time because our joints are not that healthy anymore. While exercising alone can’t alleviate all the pain and flexibility problems, physical activities can reduce the chances of causing further damage to your joints.
You can also focus on one part of your body through exercise if you want to pay more attention to it. For example, if you struggle with your knees, try out exercises that focus on the knees, helping them be more flexible and less susceptible to further damage.
4. Improves bone density and muscle strength
Many older adults suffer from osteoporosis and muscle weakness. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and even breakage. That said, by drinking milk and exercising regularly, you can delay the onslaught of its symptoms and even reduce your chances of getting it in the first place.
Apart from weaker bones, muscle strength is a huge issue for older folk, which is something that regular exercise can solve. But if you drink the best whey protein powders on the market that are suitable for your health condition, you can make your muscles healthier and stronger.
5. Improves sleep
One of the common problems that older adults have is their inability to sleep sometimes. It has a lot of causes, mainly health-related and sometimes even emotional, but if you or your loved one is struggling to fall asleep, exercising is a good way to help you get back on your sleeping routine.
Exercising induces physical fatigue in your body, helping you fall asleep a lot faster and easier. Also, since exercise can do wonders for your mental health, you’ll be sleeping a lot better since depression and anxiety are common causes of insomnia.
Exercise tips for a safe and enjoyable workout routine for seniors
Now that you know some of the benefits of regular physical activities let us tell you some tips on how to go about it.
1. Take it slow
If you’re new to working out, then you’re not alone. There are many other older adults out there who are still probably hesitating about whether they want to do this or not. But we get it, though. Regular exercise is daunting, especially if you haven’t followed a routine. What you can do in this situation, however, is to take it slow. You don’t have to finish a complete set on your first day, nor should you run five whole kilometers.
The key is starting slow, so you won’t have to shock your body by undergoing something it’s not ready for yet. This is also good to give your body some time to adjust. You can start by running a few meters in your neighborhood, probably just running from one end to another.
You could also start your weightlifting journey by practicing your form first and then proceed to have the lightest barbell. Remember, always take it in moderation. You don’t have to go all out on your second week.
2. Make it more enjoyable
Sticking to a workout routine is hard, especially with no discipline. This can happen to anyone, young or old, and most especially to people who are only planning it. That said, if you plan to map out how you want to exercise, one thing that can help you stick to your workout routine is to make it more enjoyable.
By making it more enjoyable, you’ll be more willing to exercise. On the other hand, thinking of exercise as something you’re forced to do will make it feel like a chore, and as we all know, nobody likes doing chores. But how do you make it enjoyable?
One thing you can consider is what you usually do for fun. For example, if you like riding the bike, why not make it an entire workout routine itself? Do you like to dance? Dancing is good aerobic exercise. Do you like to swim? Why not take swimming lessons as a pretext for exercising? There are many things out there that you can enjoy both as a hobby and as a form of exercise.
3. Make it social
No man is an island, and that includes exercising. If you want your regular physical activity to be more enjoyable, you can do it with a group of people doing the same thing. A good example of this is Zumba. Zumba is an enjoyable group dancing session that lets you follow the moves of a trainer along with several other people. That said, you can have fun as a group, making the classes a more fun experience. And after a good session, you can talk to your groupmates socially, giving you something to look forward to after the classes.
4. Listen to your body
Sometimes, we bite off more than we can chew. This happens when you take it too far in your first phase. Taking a bit too far can do more harm than good since you might have already damaged some parts of your body because of your carelessness. Remember, exercising shouldn’t be painful. It’s normal for you to experience being sore a day after exercising, but if it’s not happening constantly, you might be doing something wrong.
That said, if you experience any pain, you should consider changing your routine or cutting out a specific exercise that you think is the cause of the pain. Another thing you can do is to lengthen your downtime, as it might be your body has not recovered enough to do another exercise session. However, there are some symptoms that you have to take very seriously, like the following:
- Chest pain
- Swelling of joints
- Persistent pains
- Shortness of breath
You might want to visit the doctor immediately if you’re experiencing one or two of these symptoms when you start or after regular exercise. These symptoms are sometimes a prelude to more serious conditions. It’s still possible that you’ll experience these symptoms, but there’s nothing wrong with your health.
5. Create goals
One common problem that older people often have is their motivation. People usually opt out of regular exercise because they think it’s not worth it or they’re just unmotivated. That said, if you’re one of these people, you can create a goal to give you more enthusiasm to exercise.
You don’t even have to make these goals very big. For example, perhaps you want to run a certain distance in the future, or you want to be able to lift a specific weight after a few weeks. By having a goal, you’ll feel you’re on track and slowly working on something you look forward to.
Exercise is essential for older adults, given that their physical fitness can weaken due to age. That said, moving around more and doing regular exercise can delay the onset of very serious conditions. And most importantly, you can significantly extend your life span by having excellent physical condition!