Exercise or some form of physical activity helps with weight management, lowers blood pressure, reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, improves your mood, and helps to protect against a variety of chronic diseases.
Physical activity is important at every stage of life, but it’s extremely important (and most neglected) in our later years. Exercise is beneficial for the elderly because a lot of illnesses we face as humans tend to occur later in life. Fortunately, it’s never too late to exercise because it produces immediate benefits, both physically and mentally.
The Best Exercises for Seniors
Senior citizens must engage in different types of exercise than those of other ages. However, these exercises should still be somewhat challenging. Here are some of the best exercises for seniors.
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that focuses on core strength, balance, and toning muscles. All of these are beneficial to seniors because better balance and a stronger core and muscles make it less likely for them to fall, which happens to over 25% of all seniors. Some popular movements include:
- Arm circles
- Leg circles
- Leg lifts
- Planks (can also be done on the elbows and knees)
This is probably one of the simplest, but also effective forms of exercise for senior citizens. Walking can reduce everyone’s risk of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Water aerobics and other exercises performed in the water are the most beneficial for elders because being in the water doesn’t put as much stress on the joints. Being in water also provides some resistance, eliminating the need for weights, but also allowing for weight-bearing exercises. Some examples of water exercises include:
- Arm curls
- Flutter kicks
- Leg lifts
Weight-bearing exercises are very effective for preventing osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become weaker and more brittle, increasing the chances of getting a fracture or broken bones. Like with water aerobics, weight-bearing exercises don’t always require weights. You can easily use your own body weight for effective weight-bearing exercises, such as:
- Basic squats
- Hip bridges
- Other pilates exercises
Of course, it’s still beneficial to use light weights or whatever is comfortable. A good technique is to start off with the lightest weights (or no weights at all) possible, and gradually add more weight to increase strength.
Yoga is great for anyone looking to improve their flexibility and their strength. It’s also used for mental health, as it’s a form of meditation. The other good thing about yoga is that it can be done sitting or standing, and there are modifications for all moves and poses if some find them to be too difficult.
The Worst Exercises for Those Over 65
While everyone is different, there are certain exercises that most senior citizens won’t be able to do. Certain exercises will put too much strain on joints and bones, where the focus for elders should be on strengthening muscles as opposed to growing muscles. Some examples of exercises that aren’t the best for senior citizens include:
- Bench presses
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Long-distance running
- Rock climbing
- Squats with heavy weights
Some senior citizens may be able to do some or all of these exercises, but these are generally considered to be more troublesome for elders.
On the other hand, some elders may think all exercises are too strenuous, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Exercises reduce the likelihood of brittle bones and other illnesses.
It also decreases the chances for needed assistance with daily activities, or having to live in an assisted living facility or nursing home. This will be good news to some, as nursing homes have a reputation for poor care to patients.
Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor before starting an exercise regimen. Your doctor will be able to determine the best exercises for you.