Exercise and nutrition are important components of a healthy lifestyle throughout a person's life, and as we age, our requirements continue to change. A growing body of research shows that regular exercise is especially important for older adults, and more and more seniors are choosing an active lifestyle over a sedentary one. This article will introduce you to the benefits of exercise for seniors, the seven best ways for seniors to exercise, and some exercises that may be hazardous to the health of seniors.
Health Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults
As we age, our biology changes, causing older adults to stay in shape for different reasons than younger generations. While there are benefits to being physically fit at any age, the health benefits enjoyed by physically fit older adults are more pronounced. Doctors and researchers say older adults should stay as active as possible, but not overexert themselves. For seniors, exercise can help you live a longer, healthier and happier life.
1. Water Aerobics
Over the past few years, water aerobics has become a very popular form of exercise for people of all ages, but especially for older adults. Exercising in the water is ideal for those suffering from arthritis and other forms of joint pain because the buoyancy of the water puts less pressure on the joints. In addition, water brings natural resistance, which eliminates the need to use weights during strength training. Water aerobics can improve your strength, flexibility and balance with minimal stress on your body.
Water aerobic exercises suitable for older adults include:
- Jogging in the water
- Floating band kicks
- Leg lifts
- Standing water push-ups
- Arm curls
2. Chair Yoga
Like water aerobics, chair yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that improves muscle strength, mobility, balance and flexibility, all of which are vital aspects of health for older adults. Chair yoga is an accessible form of yoga that places less stress on muscles, joints and bones than more traditional forms of yoga.
As an added benefit, chair yoga has been shown to improve the mental health of older adults. People who regularly practice chair yoga have better quality sleep, lower rates of depression, and report a general sense of well-being.
Suitable chair yoga exercises for older adults include:
- Overhead stretches
- Seated cow pose stretch
- Seated Cat Pose Stretch
- Seated Mountain Pose
- Seated Twist
3. Resistance Band Exercise
Resistance bands are elastic rubber strips that add resistance and reduce stress on the body during exercise. Resistance band exercises are user-friendly and can be performed by beginners. This type of exercise is becoming increasingly popular among older adults because the upfront cost of the material is relatively inexpensive, making resistance band workouts ideal for at-home workouts. In addition, these workouts are ideal for strengthening the core and can improve posture, mobility and balance.
Resistance band exercises suitable for older adults include:
- Leg press
- Triceps press
- Lateral raises
- Bicep curls
- Band pull-downs
Pilates is a popular low-impact form of exercise that was developed over a century ago. Breathing, alignment, concentration and core strength are emphasized in Pilates exercises, which often involve mats, Pilates balls and other inflatable accessories to help build strength without the stress of higher-impact exercises. Pilates has been shown to improve balance, develop core strength and increase flexibility in older adults.
Some Pilates exercises for older adults include:
- Mermaid exercises
- Side spins
- Food slides
- Step ups
- Leg spins