Staying active is one of the best ways to combat the effects of aging and to stay active well into your golden years. However, very high impact and strenuous exercises will often create more risk than reward for older folks, so you need to choose your workout carefully. Here are eight popular ways that seniors are working out right now:
Walking is an ideal entry level exercise for anyone of any age. It’s an especially good choice for seniors because it is low impact and doesn’t put a lot of wear and tear on your joints like some other workouts. For walking, all you really need is some adaptive clothing (what is adaptive clothing?)
you can sweat in and a supportive pair of well-fitting tennis shoes. There isn’t any special equipment you need, so it has a low financial barrier to entry. You can go for a walk in your neighborhood, or drive to a walking trail if you prefer a change of scenery. Make sure to always watch out for cars, bicycles and other pedestrians to keep yourself safe.
Cycling is another low impact cardio exercise that is appropriate for seniors. Many seniors like to get out on a paved biking trail to see some beautiful sights while they exercise. However, not everyone feels comfortable on a crowded trail (or even on a freestanding bike). If you like the idea of cycling but need to ease into it, try indoor cycling on a stationary bike. This removes a lot of the safety concerns while still allowing you to get in a great workout. Indoor cycling is also a good backup plan when inclement weather doesn’t allow for outdoor cycling.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
If you’re searching for a super low impact workout, look no further than swimming and water aerobics. The water will buoy your weight while cushioning your joints, so it’s great for those with joint issues. Swimming is an excellent cardio workout, but some people don’t like the repetitive nature of the sport. If you prefer variety in your workouts, then look for water aerobics classes that cater to seniors. Your instructors will lead you through a different workout each time and may even set the moves to music, making the time pass quickly.
Having good balance and flexibility is key to preventing falls as you get older, and exercise is one of the best ways to build these abilities. In particular, yoga is an excellent workout for improving balance and flexibility. There are many different styles of yoga so experiment around to see which ones you prefer. If you are new to yoga, consider signing up for a class so that you can have an expert instructor show you how to do the moves with proper form. With dedicated practice, you will see an improvement in your balance and flexibility as you continue to do yoga.
Alongside balance and flexibility, seniors also need to work on their strength, since muscle and bone lose mass as we age. Thankfully, strength training can help slow this loss in the elderly. If you’ve never done strength training before, bodyweight exercises
are a great place to start. These exercises use your own body weight to work your muscles without additional equipment. Classic bodyweight exercises include push-ups, squats and lunges. Be sure to use proper form so that you are working your body as fully as possible.
If you’re ready to take your strength training to the next level, then consider getting some resistance bands. These tools are essentially giant rubber bands that provide some resistance for your body to push or pull against. Resistance bands are relatively inexpensive to buy and they don’t take up much room to store, making them a good choice for a home gym. You do need to be careful not to suddenly release the bands, as this will cause them to snap back, but you’re much less likely to injure yourself with resistance bands than with heavy dumbbells.
If you’d like an exercise that combines strength training with balance and flexibility, Pilates
might be for you. Pilates utilizes small, repetitive movements to target every muscle in your body and make you stronger while building your core. This is a very low impact workout and many exercises are even done while lying on a mat or a machine called a Pilates reformer, making it a good choice for those with joint issues. If you’ve never done Pilates before, try a class near you to see how you like it. It just might become your new favorite workout.
While working out with heavy weights might not be the best choice due to the risk of injury, you can work out with lighter weights even if you are getting older. Just be sure to choose a weight that’s not too heavy and to use proper form to reduce your risk of injury. You should also watch your number of repetitions so that you don’t overwork your muscles. If you are new to lifting weights, definitely schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer so they can show you how to use proper form (and how to use the weight machines at your gym, if you’re interested in that as well).
Before working out, make sure that you have the proper footwear and senior clothing
to keep yourself safe and comfortable. Not having the right gear, especially the right shoes, can increase your risk of accident and injury, so prepare the right way to have a good workout. Enjoy these eight great exercises for seniors!