As we get older our bodies require more and more upkeep to stay healthy and active. Anyone over the age of 50 can tell you that it becomes more difficult to keep flabby arms and belly at bay the older you get. Exercising certainly doesn’t get any easier with age either.
There are four main types of exercise, and it’s important to do at least a little bit of each one to stay in good shape. The benefits of diversifying your exercise routine include: better weight control, reduced risk of heart disease, better blood sugar and insulin management, improved mental health and mood, reduced risk of falls, improved sleep, and many more. The four categories of exercise are as follows:
- Endurance – Also known as aerobic exercise, endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate. Some examples are running or walking, dancing, swimming, and biking.
- Strength – Strength exercises are focused on building muscle. Lifting weights or using resistance bands are a good way to improve your muscle tone and retain strength.
- Balance – Balance exercises help to prevent falls. Yoga is a common balance exercise that can also help with strength and flexibility training.
- Flexibility – Flexibility exercises involve stretching your muscles to keep them limber and prevent sprains and muscle tears. Regular stretching and yoga are a good way to practice flexibility.
If you’re over the age of 65 and not sure where to start when it comes to exercising, here are some easy exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home or at your local gym:
- Aerobics Training – Aerobics training is great for seniors because it’s low impact, and can be tailored to your level of strength and ability. There are a wealth of online Aerobics exercises, as well as routines you can purchase on DVD. These can be done with very little space and equipment in the comfort of your own home, or if you prefer more social exercise, there are generally several aerobics classes a week at most gyms. There may even be a specific aerobics class for seniors. Water aerobics is particularly popular for seniors because exercising in the water reduces impact even further.
- Lifting Weights – I’m not talking about doing any intense deadlifting or anything, just some simple exercises with 3-5 lb weights or resistance bands can work wonders for your upper body strength. Hold your weights or bands, and raise your arms to the sides, pause, then overhead, pause, back to sides, pause, and back down. Shoot for about 10 reps each day, and you’ll be amazed at the results over the course of a few weeks. When it starts to get too easy, add extra weight.
- Toe and Chair Stands – Toe and Chair stands are a great balance exercise that can help to reduce your risk of falling. Start by sitting in an armless chair, and raise your arms out in front of you. Stand up out of the chair without using your arms. Slowly lower yourself back into the chair. Repeat this 10 to 15 times. For toe stands, stand behind the chair and use the back for support, push up on your toes to stand on tiptoe for about 30 seconds, then slowly come back down. Repeat 10-15 times. This will help strengthen both your calf muscles and your thigh muscles to improve your overall balance.
- Low Impact Stretching – There are many different kinds of low impact, flexibility based exercises, such as yoga, tai chi, and pilates. Often a full routine in any of these disciplines will help with strength, flexibility, balance, and aerobics. These are all exercises that are easily completed in the comfort of your own living room through online videos or DVDs, but again if you prefer more social exercise, your local gym probably has regular sessions for each of these types of exercise.
For many people it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise, but the benefits will definitely be worth it. If you’re a senior who is still able to drive yourself around, it might be easier to motivate yourself by going to the local gym. Exercising in a group is a great way to push yourself to exercise harder because you’ll be watching other people who are also working hard to get in shape. If you aren’t able to drive yourself to the gym, you could ask your in-home caregiver, or a friend or relative if they can take you to the gym for regular classes.
If you prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home, it’s recommended to make it a part of your daily routine. Set up a time of day that you like for exercising, it could be in the morning after you make breakfast, or maybe in the afternoon before dinnertime. Making exercise a part of your routine will make you less likely to forget to do it, and more likely to look forward to it and enjoy what you’re doing.
Take the time out of your day to start doing some basic exercise routines. It will increase your overall health, make you more active in general, and might even help you get some extra rest at bedtime. If you have an in-home senior care service, you could even ask your caregiver to get involved with you. A little healthy competition goes a long way when it comes to regular exercise.
With regular exercise, you’ll find that your quality of life will increase dramatically in a very short amount of time. Paired with a healthy diet and a good sleep schedule, you’ll feel 10 years younger in just a few weeks!