Fitness and Age – Seniors
We all want to age better and live a healthy life. That’s why the role of physical fitness shouldn’t just be limited to when you were in Physical Ed in school. Throughout adulthood and well into the elderly years, staying physically fit is a goal that all of us should aim for. Seniors in particular are one age group that can greatly benefit from incorporating more exercise into their lives.
It’s been long known in the medical community and now in the general public that continuing to exercise in your later years can help prevent diseases and disabilities, as well as aiding in the improvement of those who are currently suffering from diseases or health conditions. Of course, exercise as a senior is much different than that of a 20-year old or even a 50-year old.
With each age group, exercise should be moderated and suitable for your particular situation. Before starting any kind of fitness routine, be sure to check with your doctor first. This is especially important if you already have a preexisting health condition. Once your doctor gives you the green light, you’ll be able to carry on with your routine with no worries.
As a senior, there are four types of exercises you can try: endurance exercises, balance exercises, strength exercises and stretching exercises. Endurance exercises are any type of activity that increases your heart rate as well as your breathing for a certain period of time. First time seniors should start off slow with five minutes of endurance activities. Increase your level of activities gradually. Great endurance exercises include: gardening, mowing, raking, bicycling or cycling using a stationary bike, walking briskly, and swimming.
Balance exercises are ideal for seniors, as they build the leg muscles, which can prevent falls. Avoid broken hips, bones and legs by strengthening your bottom half. An easy balance exercise you can do at home is the side leg raise. Stand straight behind a table or chair, with your feet slightly apart. Hold onto the table or chair for balance and slowly lift one leg to the side (about 6-12 inches out) and keep both legs straight. Keep your toes from pointing downwards and instead point them facing forward. Hold the position and then switch legs. Repeat as desired.
Strength exercises work to increase your metabolism, build muscle and keep your weight and blood sugar at healthy levels. Arm raises are a simple yet effective strength exercise. Sit in a chair and keep your back straight. Your feet should be flat on the floor, evenly with your shoulders. Hold hand weights straight down at your sides, with the palms facing inwards. Raise both arms to the side at about shoulder height and hold for one second. Next, slowly lower your arms back down. Repeat 8-15 times and rest.
Stretching exercises allow you more flexibility and freedom to move around. Tricep stretches involve the use of the muscles in the back of the upper arms. Take a towel and hold one end in your right hand. Raise and bend your right arm so that it drapes the towel down back. Keep your right arm in this position while holding the towel. Reach behind your lower back with your left hand and grab hold of the bottom end of the towel. Move your left hand up the towel slowly, which will pull your right arm down. Do this until your hands meet or as close as you can go and then switch sides.