The holistic benefits of living a healthy lifestyle are irrefutable, and as we know, a healthy body and mind go hand-in-hand. A healthier you leads to a happier you, and being fit and energetic can even increase the quality of your relationships! But how do you go about keeping yourself in tip-top shape? Here, SilverSingles takes a closer look at exercise for seniors – what the benefits are and how to take a few shortcuts that still give you great results…
The health benefits of exercise for seniors is widely proven and accepted. However, you may be wondering what those are exactly? So, let’s see some of the reasons why we should all be exercising more.
There are numerous and far-reaching benefits associated with working out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection₁ here are the most important reasons why exercise for seniors is just the tonic.
• Mood and mental health – exercise produces those feel-good hormones endorphins which naturally relieve symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. It also leads to improved quality of sleep and increases your energy levels, resulting in an overall health boost!
• Reduces the risk of disease – exercise strengthens the immune system, can regulate your blood pressure and reduces the risk for multiple diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. Thus, the net effect is that it lessens the overall risk of numerous illnesses and ailments across the board.
• Increases stability and strength – with the right type of exercise, you can increase your strength, stability and flexibility. The chief benefits of this is reducing the risk of those niggling pains and strains.
• Social connections – getting out and about to exercise creates an ideal platform to socialize and make new friends. Exercise classes and gyms are a great place to meet people with similar interests and lifestyles, and good relationships have been shown to improve quality of life and vitality.
• Brain boost – exercise has a positive effect on cognitive function. Keeping in good physical shape will keep your mind and memory sharp as you get older.
To wrap it up, the overall health benefits of exercise combined with eating healthily and positive interpersonal relationships create a higher quality of life, independence and keeps you feeling young and full of energy₂!
When it comes to exercise for seniors, there are different types of workout routines to choose from depending on what your focus and priorities are. As a rule, moderate but regular exercise that include a range of low impact exercise options is a good guideline to follow. It’s also beneficial to combine cardio workouts with strength exercises to get the full spectrum of benefits. The experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise a week₃, split across different types of activities, for example, cardio, strength training, balance and flexibility exercises, spread over 7 days of the week.
Remember to consult your physician before starting a new exercise program, and always listen to your body! If it feels like something’s wrong or an exercise is hurting you, stop and seek a professional opinion. And always be gentle with yourself – start slowly and build up the tempo. Now here’s all you need to know to get you on the go…
Building muscle strength can go a long way to improving everyday activities. These basic exercises from Healthline are designed to be able to do without a gym and are adapted to be safe for all audiences. Visit their website for more ideas and illustrations.
• Abdominal contractions: lying flat on your back as if you’re going to do a sit up, expand and contract your stomach muscles, holding each for a count of 5, with 10 repetitions.
• Wall pushups: it’s basically a push-up against a wall, rather than the floor, for additional support and back protection. Standing about 3 feet from the wall, and keeping your body in line, lower your body to the wall and back. Repeat 10-15 times.
• Shoulder squeeze: this movement strengthens your back and posture. Standing or sitting upright, pull your shoulder blades toward each other, holding it for 3 counts and repeating 10 times.
• Back leg raises: using a chair as support, slowly alternate lifting your right and then your left leg behind you. Keep your leg straight, raising it and holding it for 1 second in place, repeating 10-15 times per leg.
• Side leg raises: repeat the above exercise raising your leg to the side, instead of behind you.
Doing cardio exercises raises your heart rate and is a basic component of exercise for seniors, whatever your age! As you get older, try to focus on lower-impact workouts that are fun and will keep you motivated. Start by choosing one, two or even more activities that you enjoy and aim to do them 30 mins, 3- 5 times a week. Cardio is especially good for your heart and lungs, gets your blood flowing and endorphins pumping! Here are some fun ideas:
Water aerobics: an exciting way to do cardio is to join a water aerobics class. It’s a great place to meet people, take part in an interactive exercise and have some fun!
Join a tennis club: playing tennis is a healthy and social cardio exercise option. Being part of a tennis club is good for you both physically and psychologically, giving you the chance to build your relationships and fitness side by side!
Go for a walk: regularly taking a walk can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure and doesn’t need to cost you anything. Invest in a supportive pair of shoes and you’re ready to go! Having a pet is a great reason to get out and about. They’re also a wonderful source of companionship.
Dance class: another fun option is joining a dance class. You can meet people and learn a new skill – which is good for you on all fronts! Dance classes such as ballroom or square dancing are great options to get you started.
Swimming: swimming is another healthy, low impact alternative. Swimming lengths provides a full-body cardio workout, tones your muscles without the stress of impact on your joints and builds your endurance levels. It’s a fantastic option all around!
Working on your balance and flexibility is also part of a holistic exercise plan. Here are some easy to execute exercises that still produce solid results.
Toe lifts: this is a good exercise for balance and strength training. Stand in front of a chair, if you need the additional support, hold your arms straight in front of you and slowly raise yourself as high as you can and then back down again. Try holding yourself as straight as possible and repeat 15-20 times.
Shoulder rolls: should rolls are a great stress reliever and good to improve your flexibility. Sitting or standing, roll your shoulders slowly up and forwards and then up and backward.
Neck stretch: standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, relax your arms next to your body. Don’t stretch your neck forward or backward, but rather side to side. Gently turn your head to the right until you feel a slight pull and hold for 10-30 seconds. And then repeat in the opposite direction. Do not push it to the point of it hurting, but rather a slight stretch. Repeat 3-5 times.
March in one place: this exercise is helpful for improving balance and can be done in front of a chair or free standing. Lift alternative legs as high as you can 20 times, slowly! And feel free to grab hold of the chair if you need to.
Join a yoga class: yoga is an excellent all over practice for body and mind. You can join a class, which is advisable if you’re new to yoga, or do online lessons at home. It can improve balance, flexibility, and strength.
Remember to start your workout program slowly and stop if something’s hurting or uncomfortable. It’s always beneficial to consult a fitness or health professional if you’re unsure and want expert advice. Build up gradually – if you need to use a chair in the beginning then do so, if you need to take longer breaks between exercises do that too. Exercise is meant to make you feel good, not stressed or strained!
If you prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home, a modern-day alternative is to follow an exercise program on YouTube. There are many excellent trainers and programs online, which are easily accessible and require little equipment or financial outlay.
For example, channels such as HASfit offer low impact 15-minute senior workouts or 30 min seated chair routines. While Grow Young Fitness also has a range of useful video guides on the internet – such as stretching exercises for seniors. These are just two examples, there are many more alternatives available online.
There’s no set formula for exercising as a senior. The very best idea is for you to find what works best for you. As you can see, there are many options to choose from– get outdoors, join a gym, get a personal trainer, sign up for classes, buy a DVD set or use YouTube – to name a few. Pick and mix to create a workout plan that’s fun and good for your fitness, keeps you motivated and gets your heart rate up for a healthier and happier you! And the cherry on top? A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, increases your mood and quality of relationships!
Feeling good and ready to meet someone new? Register with SilverSingles today!