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5 Best Exercises For Seniors

Exercise and nutrition are essential components to living a healthy lifestyle throughout ones life. Research shows that regular exercise is especially important for seniors who usually progress into a more inactive lifestyle as they age. According to a recent study 67% of seniors are sedentary for 8.5 hours of their waking day. This sedentary behavior can be concerning as experts say seniors who chose to stay active as they age tend to live a longer, healthier, and more joyous life.

There are many benefits for seniors who choose to stay active as they age. Seniors that exercise regularly are less likely to depend on others. Exercising also improves ones balance which leads to less falls. Being active also increases ones energy although it may seem counter intuitive. Regular exercise can also help prevent, counteract, and delay diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, and diabetes which are common diseases among older adults and seniors. The greatest benefit to exercising regularly is that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. According to research from NCBI, seniors that exercise regularly have improved cognitive health. More recently, a study from the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, states regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50%.

When it comes to exercising, there are many different options to choose from. Ideally, exercise routines for seniors should incorporate a blend of aerobic exercise, strength/resistance training, and stretching/flexibility exercises. Below is a list of the best exercises for seniors:

1. Water Aerobics - This type of exercise has become very popular over the past years among all ages, but particularly for seniors. It helps improve strength, flexibility, and balance with minimal stress on the body. Water aerobics is ideal for those living with arthritis and other forms of joint pain as well as those recovering for certain injuries. Great water aerobic exercises for seniors include: aqua jogging, flutter kicking, leg lifts, standing water push-ups, and arm curls/circles.

2. Yoga - Yoga is a low impact activity that won’t strain your joints. It well also help build muscle, improve flexibility, and strengthen bones. Chair yoga is also a great alternative to traditional yoga. It provides an accessible exercise that can be done in your own home. Great chair yoga exercises for seniors include: overhead stretch, seated cow stretch, seated cat stretch, seated mountain pose, and the seated twist. Youtube is a great resource to check for at home chair yoga exercises.

3. Walking - One of the most accessible and least straining forms of exercise is walking. For some seniors walking can be a bigger challenge than others, so distance and step goals will differ from person to person. Being able to walk without help is one of the strongest indicators of whether someone can live independently. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes to wear while walking, and bring your walker or cane with you if you require one. Walking in any form is beneficial; you can walk at a steady pace for longer periods, or in shorter, quicker bursts, or up and down hills or stairs. It all helps. Walking can also be done safely indoors at your local recreation center or even inside malls or big box stores during hot weather or freezing tempuratures.

4. Dumbbell strength training - is one of the best ways for seniors to strength train as long it is performed with the proper instructions and dumbbell weight. Strength training has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, and depression, while helping you manage your weight. Some ideal dumbbell workouts for seniors include: bent over row, tricep extension, bicep curl, overhead press, and front raise.

5. Body weight exercise - Muscle loss is a common issue as we age. Body weight exercises use your current body weight to help build muscles and strength. Some great body weight exercises for seniors include: squats to chairs, step up, arm raises, wall pushups, and sitting leg lifts.

There are many other forms of exercise readily available for seniors. Some senior centers also provide free programs; check your community senior pages to find out. You can also find many senior exercise programs online, Youtube is a great place to start. Remember that before starting a new exercise program it is important to check with a physician to ensure you are healthy enough to exercise and to see which exercises are ideal for your current fitness level.

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