If you are a senior, you should aim for approximately 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. It might sound like a lot all at once, but it breaks down to just over 21 minutes per day of activity. You can take a long walk, join a class at the gym, or even go swimming with your grandkids. You aren’t limited to the number of physical activities you have available, and you shouldn’t limit yourself to activities you don’t enjoy. Do what you love, and you won’t feel as if you’re working out.
The Health Benefits of Senior Exercise
Exercise is never a bad thing, but the list of benefits changes as you get older. Not only does moving your body keep you feeling young and healthy, but it also helps you live a longer, healthier, higher quality of life.
• Weight management
• Pain management
• Improved mental health
• Decreased risk of health issues
• Disease prevention
• Better cognitive function
Weight management is one of the primary reasons people work out when they are younger, but it’s also a great reason to work out when you’re a senior. You already know that physical activity helps burn calories and tone muscles, and it can keep you healthy even as you age.
Pain management is another benefit. If you have chronic pain because of your health, you can help reduce your pain by exercising regularly.
Improve Mental Health
As you age, it’s easy to fall into the gap where your mental health takes a toll. You might feel frustrated if you’re moving slower than you once did. You might feel stressed about living on your own as you age and things become more difficult. Your risk of developing depression, stress, and anxiety increase, but it doesn’t have to. Exercise can help you improve your mental health by releasing endorphins that overtake stress.
Sleep Better & Decrease Health Issues
Exercise also helps you sleep better at night, which is good for your mental health and your physical health. Better sleep improves your immune system, which makes you less likely to develop certain health conditions. You’re not going to find yourself nearly as susceptible to the common cold, the flu, and other illnesses if you exercise regularly.
Being physically active as a senior also make you less likely to develop health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart disease. Prevention is always the best way to live a healthy life.
Improve Cognitive Function
Seniors who are physically active are less likely to suffer from cognitive health issues. You can decrease your risk of suffering from dementia if you work out regularly. The great news about this is that there is no medical reason to believe you need to start living a physically active life at an early age to benefit from this. You can start working out now even if you never did in the past, and you can still reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Speak with Your Doctor
The first thing you must do is speak to your doctor. You should never start a new physical activity or exercise routine without first speaking with your doctor about your personal health history. Let your doctor know what you’d like to try. He or she can look at your health history and decide what’s good for you, what’s not good for you, and what might work versus what might make you less active. Aging changes your body, and you should always check with your doctor before you try anything new.
Decide how much you want to work out. Do you want to exercise every day for 20 to 30 minutes, or do you prefer to exercise three to four days a week? Knowing what works for you allows you to figure out how much time you need to work out every day. Once you know how much time you have, you can start your exercise routine.
Find Activities You Enjoy
Your doctor is on board with your exercise program. You know how much time you want to dedicate to the craft each day or week, and all that’s left is to decide what you want to do. You have so many options. You can join the gym and hit the machines or weights. You can take classes learning to dance. You can go to yoga or pilates. A spin class might be exactly what you want to do.
You can work out at home, too. You can go online and find workout videos to turn on at home, follow them, and get fit when you feel it’s most convenient. You also have the option of participating in the activities you love. From walking to jogging to riding your bicycle, you’re getting plenty of exercise each day. Swimming is a great exercise. Playing ball in the yard with your grandkids is also great exercise.
You can buy a paddleboard or a kayak and use those to have a good time and build muscles on the water. You can play tennis or golf. You have so many options that it’s virtually impossible not to find something you enjoy doing.
Make it A Group Activity
If you are serious about starting a senior exercise program, ask your friends to join you. The more the merrier is a great motto when it comes to being physically active. Studies show that aging can make people feel isolated. If you don’t get out much or see your friends that often, it’s time to get physical together. You’re more likely to look forward to being active if you’re being social at the same time. You’re also less likely to bail on your workouts if you are being held accountable by others.
Exercising with friends is one of the biggest perks of a senior exercise program. You get to be social, which is so important as you age. Maintaining an active social life is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. It leaves you feeling happier, more fulfilled, and it adds to the quality of your life.
You’re out of excuses, and it’s time to move your body. It’s commonly said that the hardest part of becoming physically active is getting started. Once you start, you’ll wonder what took you so long. Just remember to put your body first. If you know you cannot do something, if something hurts, or you have limited mobility, don’t push yourself too hard. If certain activities make your injuries, your pain, or your health suffer, don’t hesitate to remove those from your exercise routine.
Establishing a great exercise routine sometimes requires a bit of trial and error when you’re a senior. For example, yoga classes might be a great idea, but only if you do the poses that work for your body. Don’t try any advanced poses if you are a beginner. Furthermore, don’t do anything you don’t enjoy. There are too many ways to be active and exercise without compromising your enjoyment of the activities.
A senior exercise program is a great idea, but it’s not a good idea until you’ve discussed your health with your doctor. He or she is probably going to be all about you working out, but they might have some stipulations depending on your health and your body. Speak with your doctor, make a plan, and find some friends to hold you accountable. You can live a better life starting right now, but you have to make the commitment to get started.