Many aging adults and seniors are under the misconception that they are too old to exercise or it’s too late to start. It becomes difficult for seniors to begin exercise that may experience health problems, reduced coordination, and balance. Some seniors simply don’t know where to begin, but the fact is, you’re never too old to start exercising.
Senior Exercise Benefits
Exercise in seniors prevents disease, reduces fall risk, improves mental health and cognition, and promotes a healthier lifestyle. It helps to create social engagement among seniors and be part of a community, for instance: joining an age friendly fitness center, a senior exercise program, or daily group walks. Exercise helps seniors to maintain bone health, heart health, and is good for muscles and joints. Seniors that experience arthritis will find that exercise helps control joint swelling and pain associated with this. Exercise is important for seniors that have heart disease, it helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and also strengthen the heart muscle. Most importantly, exercise helps seniors maintain the ability to live independently and age in place.
How to Begin
Like any person who is attempting to incorporate exercise into their daily routine, the hardest part is getting started.
- Start with light to moderate exercises and continue to build your exercise regime over a time that feels right for you.
- Invest in proper fitness wear and training shoes.
- Make exercise a part of your daily routine.
- Schedule your exercise at a convenient time. If you have more energy in the beginning of the day, plan for that time.
- Speak to your doctor if you have concerns about exercise or need guidance on what exercises are best suited for you.
- Find an exercise you will actually do and don’t be afraid to try new workouts! There are so many types of exercise nowadays and it’s important to find one you enjoy and look forward to.
- Research senior fitness programs to become a part of if you are looking for a community to join, and ask if they have a free trial or day pass to try it out first. Silver Sneakers classes are designed for seniors with supportive instructors and are located all over the United States.
- Find a friend or family member to exercise with and support each other through your fitness journey.
Exercise Ideas for Seniors
We live in a world of fitness and there are many exciting exercises for seniors to try! Finding an exercise that is best suited for your ability level and that you enjoy is essential to your daily exercise routine. Plan exercises that incorporate all aspects of fitness important for seniors: strength, cardio, balance and flexibility. See below for some exercise ideas best suited for seniors:
- Water aerobics
- Weight training
- Personal training
How to Maintain
Make a commitment to yourself this year to focus on your health and exercise. Include your family, friends and caregivers if you can for support. Give updates, check in with them, and note how progress is coming along. Prepare for your daily exercise and create a routine will help to maintain your fitness goals. See the list below for more ideas:
- Find an accountability partner.
- Pre-pack a gym bag and set out workout clothes the night before.
- Remember your personal motivation, not someone else’s.
- Set short term realistic goals for yourself.
- Create a vision board!
- Choose a variety of exercises to include in your weekly routine.
- Schedule a social engagement once a week that revolves around exercise, like a planned walk with a friend.
- It’s ok if you miss a day, a week or even a month, just remember to start back up again rather than giving up.