Get Fit for life!

Get Fit for Life

Do not allow age to be an excuse that will stop you from exercising. Here are some great exercise ideas that are perfect for seniors

Physical activity plays such an essential role in healthy and graceful ageing. Some of the benefits includes keeping your bones and muscles strong when it comes to the physical aspect and mentally, it also helps to boost your mood while encouraging coordination in your physical movements.

According to the National Institute of Health in the United States, exercise is generally divided into four categories which are endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.  All four categories contain a variety of exercises, making it suitable for people of all ages. All you’ll need to do is to tailor these exercises according to your physical ability and needs. However, be sure to speak to a certified fitness expert or a healthcare professional before starting on a new exercise regime.

The quartet

Ideally, all four categories of exercise should be included in your fitness regime. Even if you’re in your fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond, these exercises are not impossible to do especially if you’re open to finding creative ways to suit your capabilities.  So, here’s what you need to know about the four categories of exercise and how you can make it part of your everyday life.

Endurance

Endurance exercises help to improve your overall health especially your lungs, heart and blood circulation. The aim of this type of exercise is to improve physical endurance. Examples of endurance exercises include brisk walking and dancing. Endurance exercises can help you to gain physical strength and this can help you with your everyday activities including climbing the stairs. A note of caution: when engaging in endurance training, it is normal to feel your heart rate increase. However, do not overexert yourself. If you are breathing fast and you’re not able to talk without having to take long pauses, this is a sign that you should take a break.

Strength

You may think strength training involves huge doughnut-like weights attached to both ends of a metal rod. If the thought of that is intimidating to you, you’ll be glad to know that it strength training  does not necessarily include lifting incredibly heavy weights. You can successfully do strength exercises using your own body weight or if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, you could add on dumb bells that weigh a kilogramme or two each. Alternatively, you use resistance bands which can be found in fitness stores. Examples of strength exercises includes arm curls (image 1) and knee curls (image 2). Strength exercises can help you with activities such as lifting the groceries as well as pots and pans.

Note: If you’re sitting down and exercising or require some support when standing, be sure to use a sturdy chair.

Balance

Having good balance is really important especially during your golden years. Good balance helps you to maintain independence as you’re able to be mobile and move around without having to rely on others. Exercises that encourage balance includes moves as simple as standing on one leg (use a chair for support), Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Balance exercises can protect you from falls and it can even make it easier for you to walk on uneven surface.

Flexibility

Practicing flexibility exercises daily can give you more freedom when it comes to your movements such as stretching out to reach for an object, tie your shoe laces or even to pet your cat. Flexibility exercises are actually body stretches that can also help you feel refreshed as you stretch out those tensed muscles in your body. Example of stretching includes bending over, bending backwards and to the side.

These exercises work hand in hand. So, be sure to be creative, mix them up and enjoy the benefits! However, be sure to practice caution and never exert yourself as this could cause an injury and lead to you avoiding exercise altogether. So, exercise smart and so you can stay healthy and strong throughout your life.

Stay safe

Exercise can be dangerous for an elderly person and it could cause serious injuries, especially if it is done without proper guidelines. Here are steps you can take to reduce and prevent your risk of injury when exercising:

  • Start your exercise with low-intensity moves and gradually moving on to higher-intensity moves if needed
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and appropriate for every type of exercise. For example, wear walking shoes if you’re heading for a walk in the park and dancing shoes if you’ve signed up for a ballroom dance class.
  • Warm up before exercising and cool down after
  • Drink water especially before and after your workout, even though you do not feel thirsty.

Get healthy together

Some older adults may not be motivated to exercise alone. If you know of an older adult who needs some motivation, here are some ideas you can suggest:

  • Take a group exercise class together such as yoga or water aerobics
  • Join a community gardening group
  • Walk the dog with a friend
  • Enroll as a member of a senior citizens’ club
  • If the person is part of a religious group, find out if the group also organises fun workout activities for members

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