Fitness for Seniors: How to Get Started

Few individuals need exercise as much as seniors. A solid exercise plan brings about many benefits, including being able to maintain good health and to ward off sickness. However, exercising can be difficult for many seniors due to possible physical limitations. Being aware of the many benefits and modifications that can be made to an exercise routine can help seniors begin their exercise regimen in comfort.

Benefits of Senior Exercise

While exercise generally benefits everyone who completes it, there are specific benefits to seniors. Here are just a few of the ways that exercise can make a big difference in a senior’s life: 

Increase Bone Mass and Density

Osteoporosis is a real concern for many members of our senior community. This debilitating condition causes bones to become more fragile, and a simple fall can become a serious matter because elderly individuals with osteoporosis are more likely to sustain breaks. Strength training exercises help guard against the development of this serious disease. Additionally, individuals who suffer from related diseases often report a reduction in pain caused by these diseases once they begin an exercise regimen.

Protection Against Muscle Loss

Exercise can help seniors prevent muscle loss. On average, individuals lose about six pounds of muscle every ten years after they reach age 20. 

Reduction in Resting Blood Pressure

Certain exercises can help seniors reduce their resting blood pressure.

Increase Flexibility 

Exercise can help seniors increase their flexibility. This skill helps them to be better protected when they complete other daily activities and makes them less vulnerable to suffering injuries during a fall. Aerobic exercise helps to improve joint movement.

Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

Aerobic exercise in particular can help seniors to lower their blood pressure and their cholesterol levels. 

Reduction in Lower Back Pain

Many conditions that individuals develop later in life cause extreme lower back pain. Strength training itself can increase strength of the lower back and also reduce pain in this area.

Reduction in Other Symptoms

Exercise has also been linked to a reduction in symptoms of other conditions that are more common with an older generation, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and sleep disorders.

Trim Fat

Exercise can help seniors eliminate excess fat, as aerobic exercise is known for helping individuals to aggressively burn off calories. With strength training alone, seniors may be able to lose four pounds of fat after training for three months. 

Exercises for Seniors

Now that you know about many of the incredible benefits of exercise for seniors, you are probably wondering about what type of exercises you should be completing. As is typical, consult with your doctor about an exercise regimen before getting started. Some of the exercises that he or she may recommend include the following:

Aerobic Exercise

Many seniors are able to benefit from aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise can consist of walking briskly, swimming, hiking, or playing tennis. A simple aerobic exercise regimen consists of starting with five-minute sessions a few times a week and then slowly moving up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercises during almost every day of the week. 

Strength Training

Seniors can help increase their body strength by lifting small weights. Band weights can help with these exercises. One option is to hold weights at your side, bend your elbows and lift the weights toward your midsection. Hold in place for one second, then repeat ten times on both sides.

Resistance

Seniors can develop greater muscle mass and upper body strength by using small weights or elastic bands as part of resistance exercises. For example, they can sit with their feet on the floor and then lift the bands above their head. 

Stretch Your Body

Completing some simple stretches can make a significant difference in your flexibility, resistance levels, and overall wellness. One simple exercise is to stand behind a chair, grab it with your right hand, bend your left leg behind your body and grab your foot with your left hand. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and then repeat the exercise on the other side. Another simple stretching exercise is to clasp your hands together behind your back, pausing for about 30 seconds and then releasing the position.

Helpful Tips

Medical professionals often recommend starting at three days a week for strength training. Again, be sure that you consult with a doctor before you get started with an exercise regimen. Do not push yourself too far and make sure that you listen to your body. Consider training with one or two other senior friends to help motivate each other during this incredible journey. Listen to some music that energizes you, or consider taking a special exercise class. Some Chuze locations have senior-specific classes that you can recognize by the name “Silver Sneakers.” Inquire at your closest location for the availability of these classes, but remember that you are welcome to any Chuze class within your ability!

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