It is important for people of all ages to keep their physical activity levels up throughout life. One’s personal circumstances and abilities dictate which activities are best suited to them. Seniors have a range of special fitness concerns, so it is good to tailor one’s practice to suit their energy levels, mobility, and other attributes. Regular light to moderate exercise is necessary to maintain balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as good heart health. Building these areas back up after an illness, injury, or a previously sedentary lifestyle takes time, but is of even greater importance. Attending classes and joining social exercise groups benefits mental health. Loneliness can be a problem for seniors, so coming together to use one’s body in the company of friends and peers nurtures vital social connections.
Below is a list of exercise routines and practices to suit the various physical competencies and needs of seniors that can be adjusted accordingly. Always consult a Physician or Caregiver before starting a new exercise routine. For those in the Toronto area, the Registered Professionals at Integracare are happy to provide advice on which routines suit Clients’ circumstances, as part of a whole, person-centered, private healthcare plan.
Yoga is an excellent physical and spiritual practice to enjoy at any age. Stretching routines can vary in intensity to accommodate the fitness levels of individuals. Chair yoga can be adapted for those with limited mobility. Yoga improves flexibility and strength, helping to maintain and build muscle mass. It increases circulation, helps to maintain joints and connective tissues, and promotes balance, both physically and mentally. Breathing and meditation elements are relaxing and may help improve focus during and after practice.
Similar to yoga, Tai Chi is beneficial for both body and mind, with breathing and movement working together for a serene flow. Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art with effects that vary according to the intentions of the practitioner. It is popular among seniors because it can be relaxing and relieve stress, and the movements are gentle yet focused, and they increase motion, balance, and strength. Tai Chi improves the ankles, legs, and core, and promotes good immune function. Classes involve a small group moving together, which adds an enjoyable element of social harmony.
Aqua fit classes and swimming are great exercises for all ages, and they come with a reduced risk for injury. Swimming is low impact and works several major muscle groups, yet it doesn’t feel difficult. Shallow water movements and the aid of a flotation device can provide flexibility for those who aren’t interested in enduring lengthy laps. Swimming improves strength and flexibility, boosts heart health, and helps those with osteoporosis and joint problems.
Joining a walking group or walking alone is a simple, inexpensive exercise that adds much needed time outdoors. Our mental health is improved when we spend time outside and under the sun. Walking can be relaxing, help clear one’s mind, and raise the heart rate as much as one desires. A walking group is a prime opportunity to catch up with friends and socialize while getting out there.
Remember to consume plenty of water before, during, and after practice, and take breaks whenever needed. Ask your Physician about appropriate exercise routines.