Health experts widely recommend that seniors remain active and engaged as they age. For many older adults, that means adding a new exercise to their routine. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misrepresentation about what seniors should and shouldn’t do. A good rule of thumb is to stick with activities that you enjoy and that do not cause pain. If you have any questions, talk to your health care provider; they are happy to provide advice and suggestions to get you moving more. When you are ready to get started, you’ll have lots of choices. Whether you head to a gym or senior center, or if you prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home, these five senior-friendly exercise programs are excellent ways to boost heart and lung function.
1. Water Aerobics
More people of every age are turning to water aerobics as a fun and accessible way to get a cardiovascular workout. Moving in the water offers support, so it is very joint-friendly. It also provides a mild amount of resistance, so you’ll build up muscle and, as a result, increase your strength and stamina. Most fitness centers and YMCAs with pools offer classes ranging from things like aqua yoga to deep water weight training. Read class descriptions carefully to find the ones that are right for your physical ability and comfort level in the water.
Do you like the water, but don’t want to go to a gym for water aerobics class? There is no need to worry; swimming is a wonderful activity for almost any age and it can be enjoyed right in a backyard pool. Do a quick search for pool builders near me to find a design that fits your needs.
If you choose no other exercise program, try to increase how much you walk. If you don’t want to walk alone, look into walking clubs or groups that can provide companionship while you stroll. There are also walking programs to help get you started safely, like Walk With Ease from the Arthritis Foundation. There is a lot of debate about whether 10,000 steps is a good goal, so don’t get fixated on a specific number. Instead, just try to walk more by parking a little further from the door when you go shopping or walking your dog on a leash instead of letting him out in the backyard.
3. Tai Chi
Tai chi is becoming more popular as a growing number of people experience the benefits. You might not break a sweat during class, but it has been shown to increase cardiovascular function when practiced regularly. Although it is an internal martial art, many of the available programs have been adapted to accommodate older adults with potential mobility concerns. The Tai Chi for Health Institute offers tips and advice for getting started, as well as online classes you can take without leaving home.
4. Seated Classes
You might be surprised at how much of a workout you can get doing seated exercises. In some cases, your muscles will actually work harder than they would in a standing format. Look for programs specifically designed for seniors. They will include activities at an appropriate pace and range of motion for older adults. They usually also have fun classic music selections that make the work seem easier. Silver Sneakers is probably the most widely known senior exercise program, and there is a range of classes that fall under that umbrella. However, it isn’t the only choice. Look for others from national providers as well as programs developed by independent instructors.
Who says all exercise has to be structured? Gardening is a great way to get your heart rate up and enjoy nature. If you are concerned about bending over or getting up and down, consider using raised beds to house your plants. They make gardening accessible for virtually everyone.
There are loads of cardio exercises that seniors can safely practice. Try an inclusive group class, or, if you prefer, use less structured activities like swimming, walking or spending time in the garden to boost your cardiovascular health.