Exercise can increase energy, elevate mood, and improve quality of life. Building strength and flexibility can even prevent future injuries, while regular physical activity can lower the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Research has shown that older adults who exercise sleep better, feel more confident, and experience better alertness. You may also notice improved hand-eye coordination, which often declines in people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and with regular exercise, you’re more likely to reduce the risk or progression of osteoporosis.
Some of the best exercises for seniors are those that are low-impact. They are designed to increase cardiovascular health, build lean muscle, and increase flexibility and balance.
Cardio & Endurance
- Walking – Walking is low impact, easy on the joints, and can be done anywhere. Start by finding a comfortable and supportive pair of shoes, then work your way up to walking for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Be sure to maintain proper hydration and gently stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves afterwards. To increase intensity, pick up the pace, carry small free weights, or climb a hill.
- Swimming & Water Aerobics – Water is the perfect environment for light resistance exercises. Swimming and water aerobics are low impact, so they’re easy on your joints and bones. They also help with flexibility and strengthening many muscle groups at once.
- Recumbent Bike & Elliptical – The benefits of working out with a recumbent bike or elliptical are vast. They’re available in most gyms, they’re safe and low impact, and they offer variable levels of intensity. Crank the resistance up for an exhausting workout, or keep it low for a smooth workout of your joints and muscles.
- Free Weights – You don’t have to be a body builder to lift weights. Building strength in your arms, back, and chest can be a huge help with everyday tasks and can even help prevent injury. Lifting weights helps build bone density as well. Use a set of light free weights to do curls, overhead presses, and tricep extensions. You can even do these simple exercises while sitting down.
- Squats – Squats are a terrific way to build muscle in your thighs, back, and abs. Regular practice can improve joint pain in the knees and give you much improved mobility. Try adding an exercise ball between your back and a wall for extra support when you’re getting started.
- Wall Pushups – Getting down on the floor for a set of push ups is out of the question for many older adults, but you can still get great results from frequent sets of wall pushups. Lean against a wall at a comfortable angle and perform a standard pushup – it will be easier and your arms will still get a great workout. This will build strength and tighten any flab on your arms.
Flexibility & Balance
- Yoga – Yoga is the ultimate exercise for improving balance, flexibility, strength, and even clarity of mind. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stretch or a more challenging muscle workout, you’ll find yoga is designed to accommodate people of all fitness levels.
- Tai Chi – It’s not like karate or kickboxing. Tai Chi has evolved over the years into an exercise program that features graceful movements and forms. It teaches you to control your breathing and your limbs and improves balance and flexibility, joint strength, and helps reduce stress. Many Tai Chi moves can even be done while seated.
- Golf – It may not look like much of a workout, but golf is a great way to improve flexibility and functional strength. You’ll even get a cardiovascular boost if you walk the course. You’ll work your joints, your core muscles, and your mind while having fun on the course with friends.