Proper exercise can play an essential role in your energy, quality of life and overall health. But as we age, our bodies don’t respond to exercise the way they used to. The muscle fatigue, joint aches and increased likelihood of injury that come with age doesn’t make staying in shape very easy, but it can be done. Staying active later in life has been shown to decrease the likelihood of depression and help to avoid common physical health problems. Fitness is more important now than at any other point in your life.
Walking: This simple activity is a great starting point. You can do it virtually anywhere, inside or out. You can go up and down a hallway or get out and explore your community. This low-impact exercise is a great way to start your day, and it’s a way to socialize, too. So, grab a friend or loved one and get walking!
Stretching: Stretching is another exercise just about anyone can do. Over the years, we naturally become less and less flexible, and that can lead to inactivity, back aches, joint problems and other ailments. Regular stretching can help keep you limber, and it sets the foundation for just about everything else you do. Proper stretching for each muscle group is a must before and after other forms of exercise. This excellent article by Yuri Elkaim is the perfect place to start if you are new to stretching. It covers several great types of stretches ideal for an older body.
Swimming: This is quite possibly the best whole-body exercise aging adults can do. Swimming engages nearly every muscle in your body while providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. Swimming regularly can strengthen your muscles, increase your balance and help you build endurance all while eliminating much of the impact stress found in similarly engaging activities.
Yoga: Yoga is quickly becoming the go-to exercise for aging adults. Yoga is both a physical and mental exercise. With its emphasis on breathing, stretching and strength training, yoga is a valuable addition to any exercise regimen. Dedicating just a little bit of time to yoga can provide lasting results.
Brain Games: When people think about exercise, they often forget that strengthening the mind can be just as important as working out the body. Studies show our brains shrink in volume with age. They require regular attention to combat memory decline. Simple games like Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, chess, dominoes and more can help keep your mind sharp.
These are just a few of the exercises anyone can do, but they represent some of the most approachable techniques for staying active and in shape. They can all be done by yourself or together with a social group in nearly any environment. Many senior living communities have planned activities, gyms, workout groups, on-site trainers and more. Remember, staying active can be fun and fulfilling at any age!