Muscle is an essential contributor to our balance and bone strength, and helps keep us strong overall. When we enter our forties, studies have shown that adults lose an average of 3-5% of our muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life. As we lose muscle, our mobility and independence can become compromised. This is why taking part in a regular exercise routine is vital to quality of life as we age.
While most seniors recognize the importance of incorporating exercise into their daily lives, they may be skeptical of their abilities. Perhaps they are worried about the possibility of injuring themselves and aren’t sure what types of exercises they can safely take part in. However, starting a regular exercise routine doesn’t mean a senior needs to spend hours at the gym or do strenuous, heart-pounding workouts.
Types of Safe Exercise for Seniors
There are three main types of exercise that are safe and beneficial to seniors. Make sure you get clearance from your doctor before starting a routine, and build up your workouts little by little. Stick to it so you start to feel like exercise a habit, not a chore. Mix up your routine so you don’t get bored by blending these three types of exercises below:
- Cardio or Aerobic Exercises –Exercise like walking, swimming, hiking and cycling get your heart rate up, and they can help promote independence because they improve your endurance for daily tasks like house cleaning and running errands.
- Strength and Resistance Training – These exercises using repetitive motions to strengthen muscles are beneficial because they help prevent loss of bone mass and improve your balance- both of which are key to mobility and avoiding falls.
- Stretching and Flexibility Exercises – Stretching helps warm up your muscles before a workout and cool them down when you are done. If your muscles are loose and supple they are less prone to injury, and you’ll have a better overall range of motion.
At Galloway Ridge, all residents have access to our on-site medically based wellness center, the Duke Center for Living. Enjoy the walking track and indoor heated pool in this state-of-the-art facility. We offer numerous classes on a daily basis, like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and even chair aerobics and chair strength and training- something for everyone, no matter what your current physical condition may be.
Benefits of Senior Exercise
Exercise has countless benefits for those of all ages, including a healthier heart, stronger bones and improved flexibility. For seniors, there are additional benefits, like the fact that regular exercise protects from chronic diseases, lowers the chance of injury and can even improve one’s mood.
Exercise is also key for cognitive function. Scientists have found that brain neurons– the special cells that perform all the necessary function to keep you alive, as well as help you think and improve your memory- all increase after a few weeks of regular exercise. In fact, some researchers found that when individuals walk three or more times a week, the occurrence of dementia was 35% lower than those seniors who were not involved in any type of physical activity.
It’s never too late for seniors to start exercising regularly! The key is to find something you enjoy doing, and start at a level that is easy to maintain.
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