Too many myths exist that prevent seniors from exercising. Some may feel that they are too old to start while others feel that they should conserve what strength they have and just rest. The fact is that exercise is important for all seniors to stay strong, energetic and healthy as they get older. Exercise not only improves a senior’s physical health, but also has mental benefits. It helps keep the brain active which can help prevent memory loss or dementia. Before talking on any physical activity, seniors should consult with their physicians.
Tai chi is a relaxing martial arts inspired activity that improves one’s strength, posture, flexibility and balance while promoting relaxation and coordination. According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, it may also reduce the risk of falls which can cause hip fractures, a common worry of many seniors. Tai chi is usually done in a group setting and often times practiced outside.
Seniors do not need to swim laps for an hour to get a good pool workout. Fortunately, many community centers and gyms offer senior water aerobic exercises that include a warm-up, a cardiovascular workout, muscle toning and stretching techniques. Such exercise may improve joint mobility, flexibility and strength. Additionally, the buoyancy in the pool takes the stress and impact off the back, knees and hips. Not only are these good workouts, but they are also fun since they are often done in a group setting to music.
One of the best exercises seniors can do is walking. Not only can they do it on a treadmill while watching television or listening to music, but they can also do it outside with friends or family. Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that helpes reduce the risk of developing heart disease when done in just as little as half an hour a day, according to the American Heart Association.
For seniors who are wheelchair bound or have a hard time moving around, chair exercises may be good option for getting a great workout. The slow, low-impact movements are easy on the back and joints and are simple to do. Chair exercises can improve one’s range of motion and promote cardiovascular health. They also focus on stretching and toning the arms, legs and torso. The exercises can be done at senior centers, local fitness centers or in the comfort of one’s home with DVDs.