As we age and become more susceptible to illness and physical decline, getting regular exercise is essential to maintaining our overall health. The benefits of exercise are numerous for seniors and include optimal weight maintenance, improved balance and coordination, muscular strength, joint health and flexibility, and better mental, bone and heart health. Furthermore, recent studies show that exercise can help protect against acute respiratory distress syndrome and complications from COVID-19.
However, before the pandemic, over 67% of seniors were mostly sedentary. This number continues to increase as quarantine has prevented older adults from leaving the house or attending fitness classes. Here are some fun ways for seniors to stay active and fit while spending more time at home:
For mobile seniors, walking is immediately accessible, and its benefits are numerous. Walking improves circulation, strengthens muscles, eases joint and arthritis pain, reduces coronary heart disease risk, and promotes good balance. Encourage your loved one to take a daily stroll around the neighborhood, as long as the weather is appropriate.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that has become a popular form of exercise. It combines a series of slowly executed movements and deep breathing and provides a wide array of benefits. Tai Chi is typically done while standing but can also be modified for seniors who feel more comfortable in a chair. Search YouTube for Tai Chi videos that seniors can follow along with from the comfort of home.
Online Fitness Classes
As the number of Americans aged sixty-five and older is increasing, the fitness industry has begun catering directly to this demographic. Many classes are taught seated in a chair, and instructors can modify movements for participants of all levels. If your senior previously enjoyed fitness classes at the gym, check to see if they’re offering the same classes virtually. If not, YouTube is an excellent resource for finding fitness videos and Silver Sneakers offers virtual and on-demand classes specifically for seniors.
Not only can dancing boost your mood, it can also improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, and balance. Plus, listening to music has been proven to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and support memory recall. Seniors can follow along to a Zumba class online or simply move to their favorite tunes. For those living in a multigenerational home, family dance parties will encourage good health and family bonding.
As always, be sure to discuss the most appropriate forms of exercise for your senior with a physician. Once they’ve been given the go-ahead, encourage them to get moving and have fun. There’s never been a better time to try something new and create healthy habits!