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Exercise Tips for Elder Americans (and Their Loved Ones)

By Fitoru | 20 September 2018
old people looking down on you

It’s no secret that many of us become less active with age. In some cases, health problems and weight gain contribute to our sedentary lifestyles. For other people, priorities simply change over the years, and those trips to the gym become fewer and farther between as we opt to spend our days on different pursuits. However, the truth is that maintaining an active lifestyle in middle age and beyond is crucial to preserving health and function.

Not only does exercising help us avoid illnesses and injuries, but it also keeps our minds working at top capacity. According to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, elderly female participants who engaged in a 12-week program of strength and aerobics training saw significant improvements to both their fitness and their cognitive function. Additionally, researchers noted that adding flexibility and balance training to the program could help seniors maintain their independent lifestyles moving forward. This benefit is especially crucial for those elderly individuals who want to avoid assisted living.

Learn more about how exercising can help you (or a senior you love) preserve health and wellness, along with tips for getting in shape safely.

Physical Benefits of Staying Fit
Mental Health Benefits
Best Workouts for Senior Fitness
Tips for Getting Motivated

Senior Workouts
Best Workouts for Seniors

Physical Benefits of Staying Fit

The following are physical perks associated with working out during your golden years.

Lose Weight

Research shows that the average American gains about 30 pounds between ages 20 and 50, with the potential for even more of an increase in weight during the twilight years. While it’s natural for our metabolisms to slow down as we age, seniors don’t have to accept this weight gain lying down. By exercising for 150 minutes a week, you can build metabolism and muscle mass while burning excess calories.

Avoid Disease

Many of humanity’s most terrifying diseases are due in part to health issues we have control over. While we can’t alter our genetics, the truth is that heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even certain cancers are more likely to occur in patients with underlying health problems like obesity and digestive issues. By exercising regularly and losing weight, you can lower your risk of developing some of these issues later in life.

Maintain Mobility and Quality of Life

Many seniors fear losing the strength and mobility to live on their own during the latter decades of life. Engaging in strength and aerobics training helps you maintain flexibility and coordination, while reducing the odds that you’ll suffer a devastating fall. Research also shows that exercise can mitigate arthritis symptoms, thereby improving quality of life.

Mental Health Benefits

Want to stay sharp during the latter decades of your life? Here are some of the many mental health benefits associated with hitting the gym.

Sleep Better

Older individuals often report that sleep quantity and quality start to suffer. One of the benefits of hitting the gym is that it helps you fall asleep faster and avoid waking up in the night. As a result, you’re likely to get up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.

Feel Happier

More than 6 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from late-life depression. Fortunately, you or the senior you love doesn’t have to suffer this pain in silence. Working out can alleviate stress while boosting endorphins and helping you feel more confident and relaxed.

Improve Cognition

Suffering cognitive decline late in life doesn’t have to be inevitable. By exercising regularly and engaging in crossword puzzles and other activities to boost brain power, you can stay sharp and avoid memory loss. Plus, studies show that working out may even lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Elderly Americans Workout Fitness
Best Workouts for Senior Americans

Best Workouts for Senior Fitness

Check out these workout methods that are perfect for staying fit during your twilight years:

1. Weights

If you’re searching for great senior workout options, you might want to consider hitting the weight room of your local gym. According to NIH Senior Health, elderly Americans should start out by lifting between one and two pounds and increase dumbbell weight gradually. Aim to exercise each major muscle group two days a week, limiting sessions to around 30 minutes. Not only does weight training increase strength, but it also aids in balance and reduces your risk of osteoporosis.

2. Water Aerobics

Want to engage in an aerobic activity that’s easy on the bones and joints? Aquatic exercise is perfect for individuals with injuries or those just embarking on a physical fitness routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who are unaccustomed to exercise might want to start off by walking through the water and progress to more intense activities, like arm exercises using water weights.

3. Yoga

Yoga is a great fitness tool for Americans of all ages, including seniors. In fact, the American Senior Fitness Association (ASFA) describes yoga as “a tremendous tool for combating the concerns of an aging population.” Along with improving posture and increasing flexibility, yoga can ease arthritis pain and even help mitigate anxiety. As a bonus, many facilities, including assisted living centers and health clubs, offer free or discounted yoga for seniors.

Tips for Getting Motivated

Healthy Seniors
Happy Senior with Good Health

Okay, we all know that working out is important to our physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always make it easier to get off the couch and go for that jog. If the thought of strapping on your running shoes or hitting the gym fills you with dread, you might want to consider another way to get fit. Here are some ideas for exercising that don’t involve a lonely stretch of road or a crowded gym:

  • Take a lap around your local mall; you can burn calories while getting your errands done.
  • Play a game of tennis with a friend.
  • Have your own home treadmill? Fire up your favorite Netflix show and binge while you walk.
  • Turn down the golf cart and walk around the course instead.
  • Take your dog for a walk in the woods.
  • Find a workout partner to make those strolls in the park more enjoyable.
  • Bring the grandkids to the playground; chasing them around might just be workout enough.

Whatever you do, choose an exercise strategy that will meet your goals. You’re less likely to stick to a workout if you don’t enjoy it, so try different options until you find the right one. With a little trial and error, you’re sure to find an exercise method that meets your needs.

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