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Regular exercise for seniors is essential for a longer and healthier life. With age comes a higher risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, respiratory diseases, heart disease, dementia, arthritis, to mention a few.
According to recent statistics, about 80% of adults aged 65 and older live with at least one condition, while 68% live with at least two conditions. At the same time, about 33% of men and 50% of women do not actively engage in much physical activity by the age of 75.
The good news is physical activity does not need to be strenuous, and anyone can benefit. In this article, we explore some of the best exercises for older adults and how to build an effective workout routine while keeping safety in mind.
As we grow older, our bodies tend to get slower at doing basic tasks. We get tired more often than before, fall sick more frequently, shed off some significant amount of weight in just a few years, and lose our strong immunity to diseases.
Exercise for seniors can help reduce the impact of some of these issues. For instance, it can improve mood, prevent cardiovascular diseases, benefit mental and emotional well-being, etc.
Although exercise for seniors may not directly boost a person's immunity, it brings some significant advantages:
Regular exercise for seniors aids in the prevention of diseases and chronic conditions. Immunity against diseases is paramount to a longer, healthier life at old age. With regular exercise, your loved ones can benefit from improved overall fitness and lower risks of type II diabetes, dementia, and chronic conditions.
Improved blood flow and blood sugar management. Regular exercises for seniors at home enable muscle cells to take up more glucose to supply energy to the working muscles. The effects continue even after a workout, depending on the nature of seniors' activities. Intensive exercises, e.g., weight lifting, HIIT cardio, and intensive senior balance exercises, increase muscle activity long after working out.
Exercises for seniors at home also improve blood flow by strengthening the heart muscles and expanding the blood vessel network to supply these muscles with oxygen and nutrients during exercise.
Prevention of depression and improved mood. If your elderly loved ones seem moody all day and night, regular exercise can help. In a study on the effects of exercise on depression, researchers found that workout is quite effective for treating depression.
Exercise for seniors also promotes good sleeping patterns, which has proven to improve a person's mood.
Improves bone health. In elderly ages, muscle and bone density deteriorate, putting the elderly at a higher risk of falls and minor accidents with potentially life-threatening injuries. Regular exercises for seniors at home (particularly weight training and walking) and a few balancing exercises for seniors can help increase bone density.
There are several other benefits of exercise for seniors. Remember, however, that the activities a person would do in their early 20s are entirely different from what older adults aged 65 and above should do. Let's look into some of the best senior exercises and their benefits below.
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Senior workouts are a little bit different from workout routines for youths. Intensive activities to get back in shape may lead to injuries.
Although intensive workout programs may have been easy to accomplish back then, they would be more challenging to follow as a senior. Extremely intense exercise for the elderly should be avoided, primarily for health reasons. Instead, seniors should try something enjoyable.
That said, here are some of the best exercises for seniors at home:
Walking is a good exercise for elderly seniors. It improves blood flow and stamina and is generally considered one of the most effective senior balance exercises. It might look simple, but walking without aid at a senior's age isn't always as smooth as before. When walking, we don't refer to walking for miles. A great option is to prefer short walks in the park and the grocery store instead of taking the bus.
Take different routes to keep it interesting. A hike in the mountain/forest, too, would make thighs exciting. However, be sure to walk with your elderly loved one or have someone you trust to walk with them to prevent fall-related accidents.
Seniors should sign up for yoga and stretching exercises to improve flexibility and minimize fall-related injuries and fractures. Yoga is also considered one of the most effective balancing exercises for seniors. Like other senior balance exercises, it improves body balance and strength, delays the onset of osteoporosis (loss of bone density), and improves mood.
Other stretching senior exercises, e.g., hamstring stretches, shoulder, and tricep stretch, also improve blood circulation while broadening reach.
Endurance exercise for the elderly includes jogging and hiking. Since aerobic exercises demand oxygenated blood, the heart works harder to pump it from the lungs to the muscles. In the process, the hard work strengthens the heart muscles and improves blood circulation.
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Last but not least, we have strength and resistance exercises designed to target specific muscles. In this case, seniors should use not-too-heavy weights and resistance bands and invest more in body exercises, e.g., press-ups. These exercises promote body strength, moderate the heart rate, improve circulation, and more.
Generally, exercise for older people is most beneficial when done in moderation. Besides, family and social workers should support the training program to maximize its benefits.
When it comes to exercise for seniors, moderation is key. After all, seniors are more fragile and require constant care and special attention, especially during exercise. That said, here are a few pro tips for building a comprehensive exercise plan:
You should always check in with the doctor to ensure that your elderly loved ones are fit for exercise. Putting them straight into an exercise program for seniors without the doctor's approval may lead to more harm than good.
Before signing up for the next workout routine, it would help if you sought out information about your loved ones' medical history. People with a history of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases should be careful with exercises for seniors at home. Be sure to consult with the doctor and ask what workout they can handle.
Sticking to the same senior workouts day after day may not be helpful in targeting other muscles or areas in the body. Besides, your elderly loved ones may get bored quickly and lose interest in the middle of a promising workout routine. Add a variety of senior exercises to spice it up.
Last but not least, ask for some professional help from a qualified nutritionist to design a meal plan to go with workout routines. After all, a bad diet can drain your efforts. You may also seek advice on the most effective senior exercises and routines from an expert trainer.
Senior exercises alone are not enough to keep your elderly loved ones safe. Sometimes, the problem could extend to increased crime risks or other personal safety threats.
That is why we created the AllsWell Alert app for unobtrusive 24/7 monitoring. It's a personal safety & emergency alert app for people living, commuting, or traveling alone. It combines the panic button functionality with inactivity monitoring, enabling the app to send your emergency contact an alert with your location even when you cannot press a button. It's an easy way to stay safe and mobile for seniors.
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Senior exercises are a sure way to prolong the life of your elderly loved ones. Well-thought senior workouts boost their overall health and keep them warmed up for life ahead. However, be sure to contact medical experts to determine what level of exercise is suitable for your elderly loved ones.