Exercise is an important part of staying healthy, active, and independent. But it can be difficult to find exercises for seniors that ensure safe, complete, and engaging workout experiences.
According to the National Institute on Aging, a comprehensive workout should include four kinds of exercises. These are:
- Aerobic, or endurance exercises, which keep older adults active for extended periods of time and boost the heart rate
- Strength exercises, which build and tone muscles
- Balance exercises, which are key in fall prevention
- Flexibility exercises, which help increase mobility and prevent injury
Luckily, there is a wide range of workouts, including specially adapted versions of some of the trendiest workouts, that incorporate the above exercises and keep seniors healthy. Here’s a closer look at some of the exercises that are most popular among senior citizens.
An aerobic workout burns calories, builds strength, and helps improve balance and flexibility. Many seniors, however, cannot do traditional group aerobics classes because of their high-impact nature. Exercising in the water offers a low-impact workout, with built-in resistance for your arms, legs, and core. This is great for anyone with arthritis, knee or hip problems, or chronic back pain.
Zumba is one of the most popular aerobic classes available today. Zumba Gold adapts the Latin-inspired aerobic dance workout into a medium-impact workout for senior citizens who are active and in good cardiovascular shape. Want to try out Zumba, but struggle with mid- and high-impact workouts? Try Aqua Zumba, a water-based class that’s available at many locations.
You won’t be learning to break wood planks with your hand or how to perform roundhouse kicks when you sign up for tai chi. Instead, this martial art is an internal, meditation-based practice in which each movement is slow and purposeful. Tai chi requires balance and concentration, and it is good for building coordination and developing core strength. The exercise is popular with seniors, although most classes welcome all ages.
Yoga for Seniors
Yoga is popular for all age groups, which, given its many benefits, is no surprise. From building a stronger stomach and back — your core muscles — to increasing flexibility, this low-impact workout burns calories and can even help alleviate back pain. Many areas have classes specifically designed for seniors, and other instructors may be able to guide you through adaptations to meet your needs.
Chair Exercises for Seniors
For those who have a more limited range of motion or mobility issues, many locations offer chair-based exercise programs specifically for seniors. These classes are no-impact and use such tools as light weights and bands to help build strength where seniors need it most. In some cases, Medicare supplement plans may even pay the costs of attending these classes through a program known as Silver Sneakers. If you have a supplement plan, ask your carrier if you’re eligible.
For older adults, staying active is critical. Not only does this help you remain healthy, but it can even help prevent falls and keep you safe. Taking an exercise class at your local senior center or gym can have additional positive effects, including introducing you to new friends and helping you stay engaged in your community. Talk to your doctor today about what exercise regimen is right for you, and sign up for a class!
For seniors with active, independent lifestyles, consider Lifeline’s GoSafe medical alert system — it gives you 24/7 security, whether you’re at home or on-the-go.