As our minds grow wiser and our life experiences multiply, our bodies age. It is important we maintain physical activity into our senior years in order to aid this process. Staying fit means not only looking good, but feeling good as well. Exercise has many health benefits including an immune system boost and the development of stronger muscles to support brittle bones, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory strengthening. While it is certain that getting the proper dose of exercise can assist us in our senior years, it is equally true there are some dangers associated with keeping fit. Just glancing at the free weight section has our back in knots, and the treadmill threatens injury to our knees and ankles with its heavy-impact requirement. Our aging bodies prohibit us from pushing ourselves in the gym the same way were able to as youngsters, so we’ve got to get a little more creative in our exercise methods.
One great method of safely exercising that is perhaps most commonly employed by seniors, is walking. Walking allows for the exertion of the leg muscles and encourages joint flexibility by repeated use and motion. Taking a daily walk not only aids in maintaining ones physical condition, it also stimulates sensory activity, supporting sustained emotional and mental heath. Many seniors find social benefits in walking as well, choosing to walk in pairs or teams to promote social activity.
Even less impact driven, swimming is another great way for seniors to stay in shape. Considered by some to be the single best method of exercise, swimming involves muscle exertion against the resistance of the water, respiratory strengthening by holding the breath during strokes, and complete cardiovascular workout as laps are completed, all without bringing harm to the joints. Swimming allows you to pace your workout to match your needs on a day-to-day basis; if on a particular day you are experiencing lower levels of energy or heightened pain, you have the freedom to adjust your workout accordingly. For a lighter workout try simply wading across the pool, or as deep as you can travel still keeping your head above water. The resistance created by the water against your body is enough to work your muscles a little and help release any tightness in your joints. On stronger days graduate to lap-work, beginning with single laps and moving up to multiple consecutive laps once your endurance allows for it.
Another exercise method that has gained ample attention over the past few years is Tai Chi. Perfect for senior citizens, Tai Chi involves the repetition of slow, connected motions in a balletic and controlled manner. Originating in China, Tai Chi aims to create a sense of internal centering and balance while reducing stress. Its meditative quality allows for the calming of worrisome or intrusive thoughts associated with the busy world that surrounds us, and allows us to enjoy a moment of calm, focusing on our breathing and inner peace.
Many organizations offer outdoor Tai Chi classes creating an opportunity to celebrate nature and build core strength simultaneously. Another exercise method often practiced in groups, Tai Chi offers an opportunity to connect not only internally but with other human beings as well, promoting the sense of community that keeps us emotionally sound.
The three exercise methods discussed above are by no means the only ways for seniors to safely stay fit, rather suggestions for those in need of beginning direction. When exploring other approaches be sure that gradual strengthening and conditioning are the focus, not overexertion. Exercise doesn’t have to be extreme, only consistent, in order to be effective.
And remember, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program!
Tai Chi – Some rights reserved by gigiscò
Guest Author Bio
Megan writes for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on senior care providing an Assisted Living Missouri guide.
Blog / Website: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/