Guest post by Felix Marsh, team member at Heritage Independent Living.
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It is vitally important for seniors to exercise regularly in order to maintain a good level of health, fitness and independence. And it is a mistake to think that because you are getting older it is less important to exercise!
If muscles are not used regularly, they will begin to shrink. And unfortunately, because people have a tendency to slow down and do less as they grow older, this can become a problem and overall health can suffer. With regular gentle exercise however this can be avoided and joints and muscles can remain healthy and flexible for much longer.
I am not necessarily talking about going to the gym or jumping up and down in an aerobics class. Although, if you are fit and energetic enough, this would be an brilliant way to keep fit. There are a number of different types of exercise for seniors to choose from. And as well as being good for your health, exercise can be great fun and open up all kinds of social opportunities.
It is important to be aware of your limits when participating in any kind of exercise. Take it at your own pace so as not to overdo it. Seniors who have pre-existing health conditions are advised to consult their medical practitioner to discuss any doubts or worries they have before taking part in any strenuous activities that could potentially compromise their current level of health or fitness.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking…
Exercising in water is a great way to stay in shape. Even those with limited mobility can take part in this type of exercise due to the great support and resistance water provides for the joints and limbs.
Swimming is of course, an excellent way to stay healthy. But even if you cannot or would prefer not to swim, another option would be to take part in exercise classes in a pool, which can be great fun and good for your health.
Getting out for regular walks is easy and of course this option is completely free! Just a short stroll around your neighborhood a few times a week can help to keep unwanted weight at bay and strengthen your bones. Stopping to chat or say hello, or even better, walking with a buddy can be beneficial socially, too. Simply getting outside in the natural sunlight avoids the risk of many health conditions including osteoporosis which is caused by a lack of calcium, leading to weakness in the bones.
Joining a yoga class for seniors is a wonderful choice as yoga offers both physical and psychological benefits through its combination of gentle cardiovascular exercise, relaxation and breathing techniques. Having mastered the basics, it is possible to fit in a little yoga practice at home, too, as yoga requires nothing more than a mat and some comfortable, loose clothing!
Many seniors have a great time strutting their stuff in local groups. And even if you were only blessed with two left feet, this is a highly sociable way to stay fit whilst meeting friends and having a lot of fun whilst listening to some ‘proper music!’
Cycling doesn’t have to mean lycra shorts and shiny space age bikes despite what a lot of the cyclists one sees racing around this summer would tell you. Nipping down to the shops or going out for half an hour for a ride around the neighborhood every few days on a comfortable bike is a brilliant way to get some fresh air and work your muscles.
Take it easy at first if it has been a while since you got on a bike. But once you get the hang of it again, you will discover the freedom of the road without a scrap of lycra or Kevlar required! The final thing to say on bikes is that nowadays they all come with lots of gears as pretty much standard, so don’t worry too much about the hills!
Many seniors already do this activity perhaps without realizing the health benefits. Gardening is a low impact form of exercise with a wide range of positive physical and psychological side effects. Stretching, bending, pulling, digging, squatting are all part and parcel of gardening. And therefore, as you complete the activities you can say to yourself that you are keeping the garden looking good and staying fit at the same time. Perfect!
Quality of Life
There are of course, many other kinds of exercise you could get involved with. The important thing is to choose something that you will enjoy and make it part of your daily or weekly routine. If you don’t enjoy it and it feels like a chore you will feel less motivated and be less likely to exercise regularly. Should this happen just try something new. Simple!
Being part of a club or group, getting out regularly and participating in any activity you love is good for you. So, if you know you could be doing more to maintain your health, look locally to see what is available and go for it!
Getting into good habits early on is the key, but better late than never definitely applies to exercising at any stage of our lives whether young or old.
Eating a healthy diet and keeping fit whilst enjoying a hobby, sport or class of your preference will ensure you enjoy a good quality of life throughout your senior years, keeping both your mind and body active and you happier and healthier to boot!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Heritage Independent Living is a respected Live-in Care introductory agency. We match experienced live-in or daily companions and carers with a wide range of people from elder citizens, wishing to maintain an independent lifestyle, to physically or mentally disabled clients of all ages.
Whether you’re a senior or not, what fun exercise do you recommend?
Leave a comment with your effective and fun exercise ideas.