Developing a fitness routine at any age is a valuable habit. And the good news is that it is never too late to reap the benefits of daily movement. That doesn’t mean signing up for a 5K or bench pressing 500 pounds. In fact, physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to be effective.
According to the CDC, older adults can obtain significant health benefits with a moderate amount of physical activity. The organization states that the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is due in part caused by reduced physical activity. By age 75, about one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity.
Not only can regular exercise help manage blood pressure and diabetes, it helps older adults maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones. Here are a few simple, low impact exercises that can provide health benefits for seniors.
Getting outside in the fresh air helps boost energy and increase focus. A casual walk around the block or at the local park with a companion can aid in cardiovascular health and help prevent dementia, depression and even cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, beginning with exercising for just 10 minutes a day and slowly increasing is a great place to start.
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints. The activity is great for both aerobic and strength-training, as well as for disease prevention. Research shows that regular laps can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to AARP, swimming can also improve posture, balance and flexibility.
Resistance Band Training
Resistance bands are stretchy elastic bands that vary in weight. They can be used in place of traditional dumbells to build strength and increase muscle endurance. According to the National Institute on Aging, beginners should begin with a light band and aim for two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Many of these exercises can be performed while sitting down. The Livestrong Foundation has a list of simple resistance band exercises tailor to fit older adults’ needs.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that can help seniors improve their balance, which can help prevent falls. Tai Chi isn’t about intense Kung Fu fighting. In fact, it is also known as “moving meditation.” The practice involves shifting the body slowly, gently and precisely, while breathing deeply, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Stretching helps improve your flexibility, making it easier to perform everyday tasks like reaching down to tie your shoes or grabbing something off a shelf. These low impact moves keep older adults limber and more active. The National Institute on Aging has several stretching exercise recommendations, including calf and ankle stretches.
Effective exercises don’t have to leave you sweaty and out of breath. Low impact moves can help seniors live more active, independent and pain-free lives.