At least once a week on any local news channel anywhere in the country there’s a color piece about an octogenarian who just completed a marathon, or a 98-year-old man who skydived, or a team of rugby players over 60 years old. Fitness is not exclusive to young people.
It’s true that age takes a toll on joints and muscles, but the principles of honing the body’s strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health hold true for both old and young. High-wind sprints and hundreds of push-ups may not be the best route to fitness for seniors, but there are still many types of exercises for seniors. Here are some of the best…
You can not run? To swim! Swimming combines the intensity of a full-body workout (especially the core) with a low-impact, low-stress environment. One of the best exercise options for seniors suffering from arthritis. This exercise is especially appealing to older women who suffer from chronic back pain or older people with brittle bones.
No, this is not a herbal spiced beverage available at Starbucks (that’s chai tea). It is an ancient martial art that focuses on subtle movement, coordination, and balance. As a martial art, it is much more art than martial. This is a wonderful exercise for older people as speed is not a requirement. And regardless of age, Tai Chi is used by many as a way to relieve stress as well as to keep fit.
If you kindly take Tai Chi, Yoga would be a healthy next step. Yoga may be more vigorous than Tai Chi, but still applicable for senior fitness. It works to strengthen and lengthen muscles, as well as improve flexibility. Additionally, there are many yoga positions and routines specifically designed to relieve back pain.
The most primitive exercise, and perhaps the best, humans were meant to walk. The human body evolved to resist and thrive on long, low-impact walks, and that applies perfectly to the elderly. Walking outdoors encourages adaptability; it is the opposite of the treadmill. Even a slow walk can provide a good amount of cardiovascular exercise without reaching levels that are intense and painful for the elderly.
This is not a traditional exercise for the elderly. No one thinks of a 60+ rowing team when they think of senior fitness. But, rowing provides a strenuous upper-body workout, without the pump and gym grind. Rowing works your quads, core, and even leg muscles. It also adds the fresh element, essential to the lives of older people. Exercising along the calm bank of a local river can be quite enchanting.
Okay, maybe not. In fact, it’s definitely not an exercise for seniors. Stick to the top five.
Ultimately, have fun. Simple activities like dancing, playing golf, gardening, or even having a picnic can be a great way to keep your body active. Logging in for an hour a day at the gym isn’t a necessity, as long as it gets the blood flowing, a simple walk to the corner store might do the trick. The principles of fitness and senior fitness are the same; find enjoyable and satisfying activities, choose variety instead of a boring daily routine, and don’t be afraid to include others!