We’ve long dispensed with the idea that as we age we are supposed to be sedentary and spend our time lounging on the recliner with the remote in hand. In fact, just the opposite is true. Studies show that an active lifestyle is critically important in helping seniors maintain their mental faculties and physical health.
Regular exercise can:
- Lower the risk for a number of critical illnesses including but not limited to heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Help seniors to remain as strong, energetic and mobile for as long as possible.
- Increase stamina and balance and minimize the risk of falls that are so frequently associated with aging.
- Improve their mood and self-esteem and prolong independence and the ability to care for oneself.
And while exercise and a moderate fitness routine are important for seniors, there are still some important considerations to keep in mind.
Seniors should consult their physician(s) and obtain medical clearance for the exercise routine in which they wish to participate. Some physical activities may be too strenuous and could potentially exacerbate problems; the doctor will be able to provide guidance.
Regardless of the senior’s health it’s important to begin gradually and ease into the routine. (This is true for any age!) Don’t start the treadmill at 4.0 miles per hour or heave weights that might cause damage. Begin slowly and comfortably, ramping up as fitness and strength improves.
Motivation is key. (Again, true for any age!) It can be difficult getting started, but once a routine is established and improvements to health and stamina are recognized seniors are conscientious about maintaining their fitness routine.
There are many exercise and fitness programs for seniors at gyms and senior centers which are led by certified trainers. But don’t ignore the benefits of performing simple exercises at home as well. Gentle stretching using a resistance band and light weights can be done while sitting in a chair and are good to get the blood flowing and stay flexible and limber. Gardening and strolls around the neighborhood are beneficial too.
Bottom-line, the key is to get moving, stay active and have fitness play an integral role in the senior’s lifestyle.