Exercising for Older Adults

Mar 28, 2016

Exercising for Older Adults

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Exercising works its way into the daily schedules of people all across the world. Many people exercise mildly, jumping on the elliptical for a half hour every day, while others run marathons and compete in competitions. Despite the differences in personal exercise habits and preferences, everyone has one thing in common – we all grow old!

Why Should Seniors Exercise?

Aging is a positive thing; it brings on retirement, vacation, grandchildren and more, but let’s be real – it also brings with it aches, pains and restrictions on physical movement. Some may wonder whether or not it is safe to continue exercising in one’s old age, and the answer is yes!

Actually, it’s extremely important that seniors continue to exercise throughout the aging process, no matter what their physical ability. It’s even more important that seniors understand the perks and benefits to exercise and the ways in which they should exercise.

Whether or not a senior has been an avid exercise guru throughout their lives doesn’t alter the fact that all seniors should exercise. There are an unlimited number of reasons to exercise, but here are a few of the most important ones.

4 Reasons Seniors Should Exercise

Weight Loss -Most people understand that exercising will help shed some unwanted pounds, but it is especially important for seniors. Due to a slowing metabolism and, at times, a decrease in mobility, aging individuals begin to gain weight. This weight gain can lead to a slew of other illnesses and disease in old age, which is why seniors should try to exercise every day.

Heart Health and the Circulatory System - Like every muscle, the heart weakens without any exercise. Exercising increases the heart rate and produces adrenaline, allowing blood to circle throughout the body at a quicker rate. As the individual becomes fitter, the heart gets stronger, decreasing the chance of many illnesses that are associated with old age.

Improve Sleeping Habits - Falling asleep and/or staying asleep is an issue people all across the world face, no matter their age, although this is especially prominent in seniors. Regular exercise can help individuals fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.

Prevent/Delay Disease or Illness - This can occur for a number of reasons, but mostly due to the fact that exercising properly is one of the healthiest things to do. Regular exercise especially helps those that are suffering from, or may be at risk for, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Some sources have proved that regular exercise can even lessen the effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

How Should Seniors Exercise?

Cardio or Aerobic Exercises

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is good for everyone, especially seniors, for a number of reasons. Cardio can be almost any form of exercise, as long as it helps the heart rate reach about 50 to 75 percent of its maximum. Why is cardio exercise so popular among aging individuals? Cardio is not only good for physical health, such as weight loss and heart health, but it also keeps the brain feeling sharp and young. Some popular cardio exercises for seniors include:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Aerobics Class…and more!

The diverse nature of cardio exercise creates a fun workout option for people with a variety of interests. Seniors should try to engage in cardio exercises for about 30 minutes every day.

Strength Exercises

As individuals age, it is important that they continue strength training so they are able to continue participating in everyday activities, like carrying groceries for example. Similarly to other forms of exercise, strength training should be done based on an individual’s personal ability.  Seniors should target each of the major muscle groups, and each group should be worked out for about 30 minutes twice a week. Depending on an individual’s ability, it’s important for seniors to have an instructor or other knowledgeable individuals showing them how to properly complete each exercise, as well as spotting them.

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises are some of the easier exercises for aging individuals, although, like any other form of exercise, flexibility can be advanced. These exercises can include everything from stretching ranging all the way to yoga. Seniors tend to have problems with joint pain, range-of-motion, and all around stiffness. However, regular stretching will help prevent all of these things. Seniors should engage in intermediate stretches when getting out of bed every morning, as well as participating in activities like these:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Senior Stretching Classes…and more!

Each of these activities can be completed at a beginner or advanced level, suiting the wants and needs of individuals with different physical capabilities.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I've heard that eating certain foods can actually work to help prevent Alzheimer's. Is that true?

An emerging number of studies would suggest that eating certain foods could promote brain health, while others can be harmful. Current research is investigating whether fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with a low-fat diet can serve to protect the brain against Alzheimer’s. Though, regardless of your predisposition to Alzheimer’s, it’s still vastly beneficial to eat as best as you can throughout your golden years.

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