Physical Activities and Seniors

Physical Activities and SeniorsHello everyone!  The baby boomer generation of the United States is a huge population that’s fast moving into retirement age.

As they reach age 50 and over it’s even more important that they stay active to preserve their health.  So today I wanted to talk about the subject of physical activities and seniors.

There are numerous ways seniors can improve their fitness.  Whether they’re looking to improve their golf swing, or be able to lift boxes in and out of the car trunk, I’ll be sharing activities to cover those areas and more.  One thing they should keep in mind when starting any exercise program is to start out slowly.

Especially if they haven’t engaged in regular exercise in a while.  Trying to do too much too soon could cause injury.  They should also make sure they do a proper warm up of at least 5 minutes before exercising.  Cooling down for 5 minutes or more after a workout should be done as well.

The ACE (American Council on Exercise) did a good article on fitness and seniors you can see here.  Next, I’d like to get into some of the benefits of exercising after 50.

1. Lifespan – Exercise has been shown to extend the lifespan and reduce risk of early mortality.

2. Weight Control – Being active on a consistent basis helps everyone keep their weight under control.

3. Heart Disease – Seniors who engage in moderate exercise about 3-4 times a week can lower their risk of heart disease.

4. Stroke – Exercise also lessens their chance of having a stroke.

5. Type 2 Diabetes – Regular physical activity can help everyone keep blood sugar levels under control.

6. Cancer – Studies have shown that exercise may reduce the risk of getting some forms of cancer.

7. Fractures – Seniors can strengthen their skeletal system and bones with exercise, thereby lowering their risk of breaking bones.

8. Digestion – Research shows that exercise helps the digestive and gastrointestinal systems work more efficiently.

9. Sleep – Those that are more physically active than others are generally able to sleep better, regardless of your age.

10. Depression and Anxiety – Exercise has been found to help alleviate symptoms related to depression and anxiety.

11. Cognitive Function – Regular physical activity can help improve cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, and improve mood.

12. Medications – Many seniors who exercise routinely have been able to reduce or stop taking some of their medications.

Frequency

Seniors along with everyone else, should exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise.

Group Training

Physical Activities and SeniorsMany health clubs now have group training classes designed specifically for seniors.

Group training can be a good way for them to meet other people with similar goals as themselves.

If they don’t have a club that does that type of training near them, they can also work out with a friend or 2 to make it more fun.

Strength Training

Seniors should focus on some of the major muscle groups when doing strength training.  This would include some of the core musculature such as chest, back, shoulders, hips, and abs.  They should also exercise their legs as well.

Strength training helps strengthen their ligaments, bones, and tendons in addition to just muscles.  This helps prevent against osteoporosis and arthritis.  It also helps flexibility since joint strength is improved. Resistance (Strength) training can also be done in a pool using the water as resistance.

They should strength train at least twice a week.  Light weights should be used and increased slowly over time as tolerable.  Body weight exercises are also good such as push-ups or butt lifts.

Balance

Seniors should do some type of balance exercises twice a week as part of their workout program.  To see some balance exercises they can do you can visit my exercise page on balance here.

Flexibility

Basic stretching exercises or even yoga should be part of their fitness regimen.  Having good flexibility will enable them to perform exercises and daily activities more efficiently.

Cardio

30 minutes 4-5 times a week should be the target seniors aim for on how much cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular training to do.

Enjoyment

I cant’t stress enough how important it is for everyone to do tings they enjoy when it comes to exercise.  The more you enjoy doing something, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it.  As long as you’re moving and your heart rate gets elevated for about 10-15 minutes or more, it can be considered exercise.

Having said that, it opens up the door to a lot of activities you can do outside of traditional exercise.  So you can use your imagination and be creative to do things that are fun.

Exercises For Seniors (Or Anyone)

1. Brisk Walking, Light Jogging

2. Gardening

3. Golf

4. Tennis

5. Bicycling – Stationary or mobile, for those with mobility limitations a pedaling device can be a good option.  For more information on a pedal tool they can use, you can visit my Reviews page here.

6. Core Exercises

7. Water Aerobics

8. Yoga

9. Light Weight Lifting

10. Dancing – Tango, Waltz, Ballroom, Square Dancing, any type of dancing.

Safety Precautions

1. Physical – Get a complete physical exam by your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

2. Clothes – Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

3. Temperature – Don’t exercise in extreme temperatures.

4. Hydration – Drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated.

5. Heart Rate Monitor – Heart rate monitors usually aren’t accurate if you’re on a heart medication.

6. Pain/Illness – Stop exercising and seek medical attention immediately if you experience chest pain, dizziness, light headedness, nausea, shortness of breath, sharp or severe pain anywhere in your body.

Summary – As a person moves into retirement age exercise is just as important, if not more so, than when they were younger.  Exercising can actually make them feel young again.  So if you’re a senior staying physically active is one of the best things you can do to help yourself live longer.

It can also be a lot of fun, because there are so may things you can do physically that are enjoyable.  If you’re not a senior, a lot of the tips I shared can be used by anyone to improve their fitness.  After all, exercise is something we all need to do, regardless of our age.

If you have any comments or questions please let me know and I will get back to you.  Thanks for your time and let’s do something active!

Jon

2 thoughts on “Physical Activities and Seniors”

  1. Oh boy, first thing I thought was that I am a Baby Boomer but I am NOT a senior. I certainly don’t look like one but I am over 50 lol. So I am curious what age you think we reach this at? I exercise almost daily and stay in physical shape. Many say I look 10 to 15 years younger, I think its all about how you feel and act! That can go a long way too!

    1. Hi Leahrae,

      Some think being a senior starts at 65 and others think after 50. I don’t think there’s an official age that it actually starts. Since people are able to collect social security at 62 so I would lean toward ages after that. I agree, a lot of it has to do with how you take care of yourself and how you feel. I’m 51, live healthy as much as possible, and feel great so I don’t consider myself a senior yet either. Thanks for your valuable input!

      Jon

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