Exercising is good for us at any age. You can start right now and see the benefits in as little as a few weeks. Physical fitness can improve your balance, strength, flexibility and endurance. For a senior, this is monumental. When you are in good physical condition, you can maintain your independence and your joy of life.
Let’s talk about how to begin. Start slow but perform the appropriate exercises to bring the results you want and need.
Balance is important for many reasons. One, you will maintain a solid core which includes your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles. You can walk up and down steps or over obstacles without wobbling or falling. Seniors are admitted to hospitals for fractured hips more often than you think. Try these exercises:
* Leg lifts – Stand next to a wall and abduct your leg. You can also practice lifting one leg at a time while standing in the grocery line or at the bank.
* Standing – Can you stand from a seated position without using your hands? Squeeze your abs and use your legs to carry the majority of the weight.
Stretching exercises make muscles more supple. They can prevent injuries when exercising and help you recover faster. Include stretching with each activity and you can also do it alone.
* Tai chi – This type of exercise stresses smooth movements that combine stretching and balance.
* Yoga – This is not only for stretching but also to improve the mind/body connection and muscle tone.
How much can you handle? Increasing endurance also increases cardiovascular fitness. You utilize oxygen better for improved focus and also a lower blood pressure and heart rate. Start off easy and increase your intensity incrementally to burn more calories.
* Swimming – This is good for seniors because it puts no pressure on the joints. You can still get a good workout of all the muscles and a strong core as you move through the water.
* Walking – This is the best overall exercise. You work your heart, lungs and all major muscle groups. Anyone can do it and you don’t need props.
* Biking – Biking can strengthen your legs. Choose a bike that supports your weight well and cushions pressure points.
We lose half a pound of muscle a year after age forty. To preserve and build muscle, incorporate strength training. Be careful to use light weights until you improve core strength and balance.
* Water aerobics – The water helps with core strength as you work to maintain balance. Also, use weights under water to work the muscles without joint pain.
* Dumbbell work – Use light weights with high reps for increased muscle toning. Watch your form to avoid injury.