Exercise at any age is being hailed more and more as a “miracle drug.” Working out has been shown to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, and depression, dementia, diabetes, falls, and heart disease. Some people even say that if exercise were a pill, it would be a trillion-dollar money maker. Still, why do so many of us avoid exercise or feel a sense of intimidation toward it?
Excuses range from “I’m too old to start exercising,” or “I can’t exercise because I am disabled” or “I am too weak and have too many aches and pains.”
The truth is we can all ease into a healthful, fun, and customized exercise routine to gain:
So first and foremost, believe you can achieve better health and fitness. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Your fitness journey may start with a shaky first step, but it’s definitely in the right direction toward a healthier, happier you.
What follows are some group exercises geared to seniors that can be as fun as they are beneficial.
Chair Zumba combines lively Latin music with exercises that can be done in a chair. Sign me up! Activities may include shoulder rolls to prevent “slumping,” stationary marching for heart health, and knee extensions for quadriceps strength (the muscles that support your knees and assist with standing and walking). Just try not to have fun while moving to a merengue beat!
Tai Chi exercises are great for lower body flexibility and balance needed to prevent falls. It’s an ancient Chinese martial art form that incorporates slow, non-strenuous, and flowing movements. It’s a gentle and graceful way to improve your health and has the added benefit of meditation, which promotes mindfulness and inner peace.
Ever dreamed of being a synchronized swimmer? Read on. Group pool exercises can provide a full-body workout while being kind and beneficial to stiff joints. A typical workout may include “synchronized” heart-healthy flutter kicks, leg swings to strengthen upper leg muscles that support hips, submerged arms circles for upper body strength and, of course, swimming for cardiovascular benefits.
Blending strength and balance activities in a single workout is a smart way to address the loss of balance, strength, and coordination that comes with aging. Low-impact strength exercises often incorporate free weights or weight machines, squats, lunges, pushups, and rowing. While balance exercises may be as simple as a repetition of stands from a seated position and alternating one-leg stands.
Sometimes we just need to stop debating with ourselves about whether or not to exercise and — just do it —because the “value” of slowing down and taking it easy as we age is nonsense. We recommend incrementally adding more movement and activity into your life, every day, to boost your physical and mental well-being.