Staying active as a senior is important for several reasons:
- Maintaining physical health: As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity can help prevent or manage these conditions and improve overall physical health.
- Improving mental health: Exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve cognitive function in seniors.
- Socialization: Regular physical activity can provide seniors with opportunities to socialize and connect with others, which is important for maintaining mental and emotional well-being.
- Maintaining independence: Being physically active can help seniors maintain their ability to perform daily tasks and maintain their independence.
- Quality of life: Staying active can help seniors enjoy a higher quality of life by improving physical health, mental health, and social connections.
What kind of exercise is safe for seniors?
The type of exercise that is safe for seniors will depend on their physical condition and any pre-existing health conditions. In general, seniors should aim for a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
- Aerobic exercise: This type of exercise includes activities that increase the heart rate, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing. Aerobic exercise can improve cardiovascular health, increase endurance, and help manage weight.
- Strength training: This type of exercise involves using weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to build muscle strength and maintain bone density. Strength training can help prevent falls, improve posture, and increase overall physical strength.
- Flexibility exercises: These exercises include stretching and range-of-motion exercises that help maintain joint flexibility and prevent injury. Flexibility exercises can also improve balance and coordination.
Seniors need to start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase the intensity and duration of their workouts as their fitness level improves. Seniors should also consult with their doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if they have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns about their physical ability. Additionally, working with a qualified personal trainer or physical therapist can help ensure that seniors are exercising safely and effectively.
What risks are there with exercising as a senior?
While exercise is generally safe and beneficial for seniors, there are some risks to be aware of, including:
- Injury: Seniors may be more prone to injury due to age-related changes such as decreased flexibility, slower reaction times, and reduced bone density. To reduce the risk of injury, it's important to start with low-impact activities, use proper form, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
- Overexertion: Seniors may be more susceptible to overexertion and heat-related illness, especially in hot or humid weather. To prevent overexertion, it's important to stay hydrated, take breaks when needed, and avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day.
- Cardiovascular problems: Seniors with cardiovascular disease or other heart conditions should consult with their doctor before starting any new exercise program. Vigorous exercise can put stress on the heart and increase the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular problems.
- Joint problems: Seniors with joint problems such as arthritis may need to modify their exercise routine to avoid putting too much stress on their joints. Low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga can be a great way to stay active without exacerbating joint pain.
- Fall risk: Seniors with balance or mobility issues may be at increased risk of falls, especially during certain types of exercise. To reduce the risk of falls, it's important to start with exercises that improve balance and coordination, use proper footwear, and avoid exercises that require quick changes in direction or high-impact movements.
It's important to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns about your physical ability. Additionally, working with a qualified personal trainer or physical therapist can help ensure that you are exercising safely and effectively.
How can I get started with exercise as a senior?
Getting started with exercise as a senior can be a great way to improve your health and quality of life. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Start with low-impact activities: If you're new to exercise or have physical limitations, start with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling. These activities are easier on the joints and can be a great way to build endurance.
- Find a workout buddy: Exercising with a friend or family member can be a great way to stay motivated and make exercise more enjoyable.
- Consider working with a personal trainer or physical therapist: A qualified personal trainer or physical therapist can help you design an exercise program that is safe and effective for your individual needs and fitness level. Circolo Trainer, Laisha Ames, is a certified Senior Fitness Instructor.
- Incorporate strength and flexibility exercises: In addition to aerobic exercise, it's important to incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your workout routine. This can help improve balance, prevent falls, and maintain bone density.
Remember to listen to your body and take breaks when you need them. With time and consistency, regular exercise can help improve your health and quality of life as a senior.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Physical activity for older adults. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htm
National Institute on Aging. (2020). Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity