Exercise is important for people at any age, but there are particular benefits to exercising if you are over the age of 60. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including dementia. We’ve collected the five best exercises out there for seniors, but make sure to consult your physician prior to changing your current routine.
While it might not seem like the most cardio-intensive workout, walking can actually go a long way when it comes to your overall heart health. It can improve your blood flow, make you stronger, and help to build your endurance (especially if you add in some big hills in your neighborhood). Walking is also a great activity to include a Fitness Buddy--you can socialize while you get into shape!
Swimming is another great low-cardio workout that helps increase the strength of your heart and lungs, overall endurance and fitness level. Swimming can be a particularly helpful workout for people who suffer from Arthritis, knee problems, or are overweight. If you’re new to the water, you can start by swimming laps with a kick board until you get more comfortable to test out your freestyle strokes.
Tai chi has been used to improve balance and flexibility and has the added benefit of being a very peaceful, quiet exercise. Tai Chi is a series of fluid movements that emphasizes balance and relaxing your muscles. Research has shown that one hour of Tai Chi three times a week can greatly improve strength in your feet and toes, and also assist in increasing your balance and flexibility.
One of our favorite pastimes as children also makes for a great senior activity! It improves cardiovascular fitness while being low impact on the knees, hips, ankles, and other joints. This fun activity, which can also be done with friends, helps to prevent obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, mild depression, hypertension and arthritis. It’s a very practical exercise too, as it can serve as an alternate mode of transportation--just don’t forget to wear a helmet!
Yoga is a spiritual, mental, and physical discipline which has been around for centuries, originally as an Indian practice. Since the 20th century, Yoga has been a popular exercise and now has become quite trendy. Yoga is a gentle and non-competitive method of exercise that can work for you, at any age. Yoga has found to be beneficial for improving flexibility, depression, cholesterol levels, bone weakness, arthritis, blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. As an added bonus, most yoga classes will have a meditation portion, which also can help you deal with stress and anxiety.
Similar to Yoga, Pilates boasts the benefits of increased levels of strength, balance, flexibility, muscle tone, stamina, and well being. There are two types of Pilates classes to consider--Pilates Mat and Pilates Reformer. A Mat class is done on a mat, with no fancy equipment needed, aside from perhaps weights and a magic circle or exercise band. A Reformer class requires a large piece of specialty equipment and requires that you make private appointments for classes. The goal of both types of Pilates classes is to build your core muscles and increase flexibility.