Greta does water aerobics on Thursday afternoons. Celeste meets her friends for nature walks most mornings. Ernie prefers guided yoga at home. Everyone’s exercise routine looks a little different because everyone has different goals, preferences, and starting points.
Most experts recommend 2.5-5 hours of dedicated exercise each week for seniors, but few experts are picky about how you go about it. If you exercise half an hour a day, you’ll be well on your way to building a healthy and active lifestyle, no matter what activities you choose. Remember, anything that gets you moving counts as exercise. You can get your steps in doing housework or yard chores!
Why is Exercise Important as We Age?
Exercise is about more than maintaining a healthy weight, especially in your golden years. Bodies age in predictable ways. Our muscles and joints stiffen and become less flexible. Our circulation becomes less efficient, and our lungs perform less efficiently. Exercise combats and slows all of these natural processes. Exercise is extra important because it also prevents health concerns where risk increases with age, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Best Kind of Exercises for Seniors
Low impact exercises are best for older adults. This means gentle movement on the joints, not forceful and repetitive like running or contact sports. Of course, lifelong engagement in a comprehensive exercise routine will make more vigorous exercise possible, even as the years advance. There’s no reason to stop running marathons if you are in good health, and senior softball is a lot of fun if you consistently play. If that’s not you, there are plenty of good exercise options to keep you healthy.
It is important to ease into your workout by warming up. Consider a walk or stretch before moving on to the main event.
Best exercises for most seniors include:
- Chair yoga
- Tai Chi
- Aqua aerobics
- Resistance band training
- Light strength training
Working Out At Home
Sometimes, it’s nice to practice and get comfortable with new exercises in the privacy of your home. Sometimes, it’s just easier to operate on your schedule.
Exercise Equipment for Seniors
You can get a good workout at home without specialized or pricey tools. However, a few inexpensive items can expand your workout options and help you preserve and expand your mobility and range of motion.
Here are a few exercise equipment items we recommend and a convenient Amazon link so you can find the perfect tool for your routine:
- Resistance Bands- Work on resistance training to increase your strength and balance. These versatile and inexpensive bands can be used in a variety of routines.
- Light Dumbells- Gentle weight training is a great way to increase muscle and strength.
- Pedal Exerciser- This small contraption is good for leg strengthening exercises and cardio.
Home Stretches for Seniors
Stretches are an important part of every exercise routine. Stretches also improve your core strength, range of motion, and stability. It is important to include every part of your body when stretching. Feel free to adapt them if needed, but here are some ideas:
- Simple neck stretch: In a seated or standing position, move your head toward your chest and hold. Then, bring your head over your left shoulder and hold. Switch from side to side.
- Shoulder stretches for seniors: While sitting or standing, bring your right arm across your chest, hold it above the elbow with your left hand and pull the arm as close to your body as you comfortably can. Hold, and then switch sides.
- Gentle upper arm stretch: In a seated or standing position, lift your bent right arm. Hold it with your left hand near the elbow and gently move the arm closer to your head. Hold, and alternate sides.
- Stretch and strengthen your hips: Stand and lift your right leg slightly off the ground with your toes up. Move your leg in small circles. Switch sides. If needed, hold on to something stable.
- Hamstring stretch: While seated or standing, put your right foot slightly in front of your bent left leg and keep your right heel on the floor. Now, lift your toes. Bend forward at the hips while keeping your back straight. Hold, and switch sides. If it helps, you can lift the stretching leg onto a low bench or step. This allows you to keep the left leg straight instead of bending it.
- Calves: This is an excellent stretch for knee pain. Move your right leg forward and bend it, pressing your left heel down. Hold, then switch sides. You can stabilize yourself with sturdy furniture if needed.
Exercise Videos for Seniors
There are more senior exercise videos available online than ever before, so you can easily find appealing options. Here are some of our favorite free online exercise video options for seniors:
- Silver Sneakers- This is a classic resource that caters to seniors. It’s easy to use and full of other great resources.
- Youtube.com search: senior exercise video There are always new Youtube videos so your workout never gets stale.
- Native Path- This is a resource created by professionals, especially for seniors looking for a well-rounded home workout.
Exercise Classes for Seniors
It’s always easier to stay active if you have a buddy. It’s harder to hit the snooze button if someone is waiting for you. Group exercise classes are a great way to keep your motivation strong. Many senior centers, community organizations, independent living communities, and fitness centers offer exercise classes designed for older adults.
Village Green’s independent living calendar is full of fan favorites like dance cardio, chair yoga and medication, and balance and strength.