Exercise and Seniors
Exercise is important for nearly everybody’s health. Not only does it benefit the body’s physical health, but it can improve self-image and makes us feel good by releasing “feel-good” hormones called endorphins.
Seniors will derive many of the same benefits. In addition, exercise can help seniors maintain cognitive function, keep diseases seniors are more prone to at bay and allow them to stay independent.
Read more below!
Types of Exercises
There are 4 main types of exercises. Seniors should try to perform exercises from each category for maximum health benefits.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, makes your muscles stronger. Other benefits of strength training:
Speeds up metabolism
Stronger bones, ligament, and tendons
Releases “feel-good” hormones called endorphins
Helps with performing daily activities, such as moving objects or climbing stairs
When most people hear “strength training”, they think of heavyweights. In fact, there are a few kinds of strength training:
Weight lifting – No need for heavy weights, 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise is plenty.
Resistance bands – Elastic bands used for strength training. Very versatile.
Bodyweight training – Pushups, pull-ups, squats, etc.
Endurance training also called aerobic training, trains your respiratory and circulatory system. Engaging in endurance training can
Improved cognitive function
Stronger immune system
Many people enjoy endurance training due to its variety and capacity for socializing. Some common forms of endurance training include
Climbing hills or stairs
Outdoor chores (raking leaves, mowing the lawn, etc.)
Team sports (basketball, soccer, etc.)
Flexibility is a type of exercise that stretches out your muscles.
Flexibility training can help your body by
Keeping your muscles limber
Improving performance in other types of exercise
Reducing muscle soreness
Calming the mind
Seniors can train their flexibility through either a stretching or yoga routine. Yoga can supplement those as well, or it can be done on its own.
Keep in mind that stretching is not a warm-up. Stretching “cold” muscles can actually cause injury. Because of this, stretching is often done at the end of strength or endurance training to help the muscles recover and keep them loose without causing injury.
Balance training is especially important for seniors. It helps to prevent falls by strengthening the muscles that aid in balance and coordination, mainly the
Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves)
Core (abdominals, hips, back extensors)
To train your balance, you can
Practice standing on one-foot
Tips for Exercising Seniors
Seniors that aren’t used to exercising regularly should check with your doctor before starting any routine. Those who have recently undergone surgery should speak with their doctor as well.
In addition, seniors should cease exercise and speak with their doctor right away if they experience
Shortness of breath
Sores that refuse to heal
Tips for Starting
Seniors should start slowly if you aren’t currently active. Doing so will reduce soreness and help prevent injury.
As you get comfortable with exercise, you can progress to longer or more intense sessions. Make sure to listen to your body as well. If you’re sick or you feel like you’re overworked, it’s better to take a break and recover than to push yourself too hard and hurt yourself.
If you have to take an extended break, such as 2 weeks, ease slowly back into your routine again.
What to Wear
Exercise clothing should be comfortable and loose, but not too loose. Shoes should fit well and have sufficient arch support. In addition, wear the correct shoes for the correct activity. For example, wear running shoes when running, dancing shoes for dancing, etc.