Time to Get Physical. Ways Older Adults Can Stay Active and Healthy.
When it comes to physical decline, inactivity is the culprit. Aging happens, but we can control the level of activity you or a loved one engages in. Getting active is one of many ways to prepare for future aging.
No matter what your age is, your body will need physical activity to function at its best. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention, the weaknesses stereotypically attributed to old age, such as reduced strength and stamina, are not rooted in aging alone but caused in part by a lack of physical activity.
Consistent physical activity maintains strength in bones, muscles, and joints, thus slowing down the natural process of physical decline. Therefore, to promote strength and good health as you age, it's important to stay physically active. Below are a few easy exercises seniors can do to keep their bodies in top shape.
The physical practice of yoga was designed to improve balance, strength, and flexibility and allows you to achieve relaxation as you control your breath and move your body through a series of postures. Our Yoga and Meditation Benefits write-up explains that the practice can benefit seniors in many ways. Yoga slows the aging process down by promoting an individual's entire wellbeing, from the mind to the body to the soul.
The specific health benefits of yoga include lubricated muscles to improve joint mobility, slowed bone thinning to reduce osteoporosis risks, and decreased nervous system activity to reduce stress and hypertension. Yoga can also enhance sleep quality, promote heart health, and provide relief for muscle pain and migraines.
If you're interested in trying yoga, you can learn the many basic postures through free videos online. The lifestyle magazine Women's Health lists fifteen of the best yoga sequences found on YouTube. Check out Yoga with Adriene's Yoga for Complete Beginners, as it uses easy, gentle postures that will introduce you to the practice.
But if you're looking for a shorter workout, the channel Women's Workout has a 10-minute introductory video that might work for you.
Watch the video by clicking here.
Dancing blends physical activity and self-expression, so it's only natural that it offers just as many emotional benefits as it does physical benefits.
Like yoga, dancing improves balance and muscle strength. In one of their features, Health and Wellness Website SymptomFind suggests that dancing can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as the weight-bearing exercise increases bone density to reverse the process of bone loss. Dance movements can also promote better serotonin and dopamine regulation, which can keep your moods elevated.
The fitness program Zumba pioneered the recent trend of using simple choreography and upbeat music for aerobic workouts. Seniors should try online classes that offer the Zumba Gold program. Zumba Gold is a type of Zumba dance class that uses lower intensity. This low-impact exercise is easy for beginners to adapt to.
Tai chi is another low-impact exercise that offers many health benefits at a low level of difficulty. In this mind-body exercise, your goal is to encourage energy, or qi, to flow freely through the body as you manage your breath and cycle through a slow series of motions.
The Harvard School of Medicine explains that tai chi builds muscle strength, flexibility, and balance while allowing relaxed muscle movement. The gentle nature of the exercise makes tai chi easy to adapt to and is ideal for individuals with reduced strength or low fitness skill levels.
To learn the basic forms, you can refer to the instructional website WikiHow. Their 'How to Do Tai Chi' guide includes some of the common motions, such as the single whip move, the white crane spreads wings move, arm circle, and the snake creeps down move. While trying to perform those moves, focus on proper breathing and centering, giving you better control of your mind.
If you have access to a swimming pool, you can also try water aerobics, a type of aerobic exercise done while standing in shallow waters. In water aerobics, you go through a series of warm-ups, cardio, and strengthening exercises, including bicep curls, leg lifts, and kickboard moves.
Your lightness in water gives you a greater range of motion. As you move, water resistance activates the muscles but places no pressure on the joints, which builds strength without putting the body at risk of pain.
When it comes to physical decline, inactivity is the bigger culprit, not age. Making a consistent effort to improve strength through physical activity can build your vigor and endurance, even as you age. Yoga, tai chi, dance, and water aerobics are some physical activities you can try to promote good health as an older adult.
For more tips on aging well, check out the rest of LTC News.
About the Author
Jena Bessey is a long-time writer, short-time freelancer. After quitting her desk job to pursue opportunities on her own, she's found that in the solace of working in her own home, she gets more done. It's a plus that she gets to bask in the presence of her 2 beloved dogs, and 3 cats who she shares a passionate love-hate relationship with.
Contributor since December 3rd, 2019
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