The benefits of physical activity for older adults are many. Regular exercise can prevent or lessens many health problems, may improve mood and mental health, may lessen the risk of injury including falls by improving balance, and may help maintain a healthy body weight. Even those with chronic conditions may benefit from exercise in one form or another. The best part is that older adults can get adequate exercise during the winter months and during COVID quarantine without ever leaving home. As with all physical activity, please consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen to determine which activities are most suitable for you.
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled an excellent guide for older adults’ physical activity basics. Here are some highlights from the CDC’s guidelines and other sources to get you on your way to a habit of regular exercise:
Flexibility, Stretching, and Warming Up
Stretching and warming up the body for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities and may help to prevent injuries. A brisk walk is a good warm up for aerobic activity, for example. Check out “7 Simple Stretches for Older Adults” on Silver Sneakers, where they show – with videos – some great stretches that older adults can do in their home.
Aerobic activities move large muscles for a sustained period of time and make the heart beat more rapidly and breathing rate increase over resting. Based on the individual’s level of fitness, the following activities may provide the benefits of aerobic activity; we’ve highlighted in bold the ones you can do inside your home in the winter months and during COVID:
- Water aerobics
- Jogging or running
- Aerobic exercise classes (Check out these free online exercise classes at Senior Planet!)
- Some forms of yoga
- Bicycle riding (stationary or outdoors)
- Some yard work, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
- Sports like tennis or basketball
- Walking as part of golf
Muscle-strengthening activities make muscles do more work than they do in normal daily activities. The benefits include improved coordination and balance, increased blood flow, and bone health. Appropriate muscle-strengthening exercises for older adults may include:
- Strengthening exercises using exercise bands, hand-held weights, or weight machines
- Body-weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, planks, squats, lunges)
- Digging, lifting, and carrying as part of gardening
- Carrying groceries
- Some yoga postures
- Some forms of tai chi
Balance activities can decrease the body’s risk of falls and associated bone fractures. Balance activities that can be done in your home include:
- Walking heel to toe
- Repeated standing from a sitting position
- Using a wobble board
- Muscle strengthening exercises of the back, abdomen, and legs
We hope we’ve encouraged you to take the first steps toward better health by starting a regular exercise routine, or if you’re already an active senior who wants to continue to live independently, we hope you’ve picked up some ideas for introducing some variety into your routine. Don’t forget, check with your doctor before attempting anything mentioned here!
Pamela Cupp is a senior living professional with over 20 years’ experience in healthcare sales, marketing, operations, and business development. She has worked on both the provider and consultant side of the business and continues to develop her passion for helping older adults and their families thrive and make decisions during important life changes. You can follow her blogs at www.stonebridgeatwintonwoods.com
If you would like information on StoneBridge at Winton Woods, contact us at 513-834-7000 or email Pamela Cupp, Senior Living Counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help you and your loved ones stay safe.