Independence. Energy. Brain Function. At first glance, it’s imminently clear, all are pretty important to our wellbeing. But it may take a second look to grasp the thread that ties them all together: Exercise.
Exercise is important to our physical and mental health at any age, but as active adults, it is critical to our quality of life. Keeping fit will positively impact all of the above, helping maintain the ability to live independently, staving off disease, sharpening the brain and continually fueling energy reserves. Contributing to a well-balanced life, senior fitness will also improve actual balance, keeping older adults safe from falls which can have serious consequences.
Now that the leaves are changing colors, your fitness regimen may be going through some seasonal changes as well. Here are a few suggestions for bringing the fitness party indoors.
If you are a hardy spirit, walking in the winter may just mean having a jacket handy. It can be invigorating to take a brisk walk in the crisp air and enjoy Mother Nature’s best show. For those who would prefer to walk indoors, if you’re fortunate enough to live in one of Overture’s active adult communities, or have access to a local gym, you can keep it moving on the treadmill. If the treadmill is unappealing, grab a buddy and head to the nearest indoor shopping center for a fun, social mall walk. Indoors or outside, walking is a fun, low impact, exercise you can do on your own or with friends.
Take the Plunge
When the weather gets cooler, a heated pool is just what the trainer ordered. Exercising in the water can improve strength, flexibility and balance with minimal stress to the body. For those with joint issues, swimming laps or taking a water aerobics class is a perfect—and pain free—way to stay fit. Between aqua jogging, leg lifts, arm curls, standing water pushups and flutter kicking, water aerobics can be quite a vigorous and beneficial workout.
High on the list of indoor exercises for seniors is the use of resistance bands. It’s amazing how many different exercises can be done with those stretchy strips of rubber. Most come in kits with a guidebook of suggested exercises. Ideal for working out at home, resistance bands are inexpensive and can help strengthen and tone all the muscle groups, including that all important core, for improved posture, mobility and balance.
In Home Fitness Programs
As an active adult, you probably remember actual fitness videos for seniors. Well, now the concept is the same, but the delivery system is much improved. There are tons of sources for at home exercise programs for seniors out there. Some are online and others are available on DVD. Check out the 60+ Club, and Amazon for starters. There is also the popular Peloton online. Be sure to check out the programs carefully before you begin your workout to make sure they are compatible with your skill and comfort level.
Of course, winter is the time to get the yoga mat out of the closet. If you are new to his type of exercise, take it slow at first, and work your way into a more strenuous practice. There are plenty of yoga movements that can be done with a chair and that may be a good place to start.
Great chair yoga exercises for seniors include:
- Overhead stretch
- Seated cow stretch
- Seated cat stretch
- Seated mountain pose
- Seated twist
Weight bearing exercise is an important part of senior fitness. Before you buy weights for in home use, it may be prudent to check with a fitness trainer to be sure to choose the right free weights for your fitness level.
Senior fitness is imperative year round. Make sure falling temperatures don’t deter you from working up a sweat.