By now, it’s common knowledge that exercise for seniors can have a positive impact on health and longevity. For some, integrating exercise into their lives is second nature, but for those who are new to the discipline, figuring out how to start a workout routine can be challenging. While it’s possible to exercise at home, joining a gym that has exercise classes for seniors is a great way to jump into exercising.
A gym workout can not only provide you with the equipment, motivation, and accountability you need to stay on track, but it can also provide you with social benefits as well. Gyms that are geared towards seniors offer a wide range of exercise classes for seniors and lower the intimidation factor for those starting to work out for the first time.
So, how exactly do you go about finding a gym for seniors?
Exercise for Seniors: Finding A Gym
Thanks to the Age-Friendly Facilities and Services Locator from AARP and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), finding a senior-friendly gym workout is now easier than ever. To find a gym in your neighborhood simply type in your zip code or choose the type of facility you are looking for in the drop-down box, select your state and city and then click the ‘search’ button to see the options available to you. You are bound to find exercise classes for seniors in your area.
As an added bonus, the locator uses icons to help you determine if the gym is a good fit for your activity level. For example, if you’re just beginning to exercise, look for the red “Getting Started” icon next to the senior fitness center, or if you regularly engage in competitions or strenuous recreational activities, then you would look for the yellow “Athlete” icon.
Senior-Friendly Gym Workout Programs
Although the Age-Friendly Facilities and Services Locator is the easiest way to find a local gym for seniors, there are other senior fitness programs you can look into, such as:
Silver Sneakers: Also developed by AARP, Silver Sneakers is one of the most well-known programs offering exercise for seniors on the market. With more than 13,000 gyms and 60 healthcare plans involved, this program provides access to an extensive network of gyms and fitness classes that are ideal for seniors, at no extra cost to you.
EnhanceFitness: EnhanceFitness is a program that offers “state-of-the-art, community health promotion programs designed especially for older adults.” Through this program, more than 500 locations--including senior centers, YMCAs, churches, parks and recreation sites, and affordable housing and retirement communities--across the country offer hour-long exercise classes led by a certified instructor, who guides the group of participants through a series of aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility exercises.
The Y’s Active Older Adults Program: This program features a variety of exercise classes for seniors, ranging from swimming to gentle pilates, to chair yoga, and more. This program is not offered at all YMCAs, however, so be sure to check your local YMCA (or use the Age-Friendly Facilities and Services locator) for availability.
If it’s hard for you to find senior exercise programs in your area, consider starting a senior fitness program yourself. Talk to your place of worship, community center, or local gym about starting a program specifically for seniors. With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, there’s bound to be interested in an exercise program for seniors.
Exercise for Seniors At The Gym
When it comes to senior fitness, including a variety of exercises in your daily routine is a key component in helping you maintain your mobility. The gym is the perfect place to just that. Not only will you have access to certified fitness trainers and instructors, but you will also have access to all the equipment you’ll need to create a balanced workout regiment featuring these four types of exercises:
Strength: Lifting weights is a great way to strengthen your muscles, but if you are new to exercise, be sure to have a certified fitness trainer or instructor nearby to spot you. If you don’t feel comfortable lifting weights, resistance bands are a great alternative. You can also use your own bodyweight to do these stretches and still experience the benefits of strength training.
Balance: Experiencing a loss of balance becomes more common with age, but signing up for a tai chi class at a gym for seniors will improve your balance and help you stay on your feet. Tai chi also comes with many other health benefits, including aerobic conditioning, flexibility, and muscle strength.
Aerobic: By increasing your breathing and heart rate, aerobic senior exercise programs strengthen your heart, lungs and circulatory system. At a gym, you can get an aerobic workout by taking a walk or jog on the treadmill, a swim in the pool, or maybe even a Zumba or ballroom dancing class.
Flexibility: Doing flexibility exercises will not only stretch your muscles, but it will also help you perform simple tasks you do in your daily life, like tying your shoes. Luckily, most gyms and senior fitness centers offer yoga classes, which is one of the best flexibility exercises for seniors.
Safety at the Gym
Although exercise is a key component of healthy aging, it can also be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. A Mobile Guardian will not only keep you safe at the gym, but it can also help protect you should you choose to take your workouts outside, like a hike or a bike ride around your neighborhood. With GPS-enabled services, Medical Guardian’s emergency operators are able to send help to your location, no matter where you are.