Staying in shape is important for older adults. As we age, taking care of our bodies becomes an essential part of maintaining good health. The CDC recommends at least two and a half hours of moderately intense aerobic activity and two hours of strength training for older adults each week.
It’s a lot easier to find time for exercise when we have an activity we look forward to doing. If you’ve found yourself in a fitness rut, or you’re just looking for ideas for a fun new hobby to pursue, check out this list.
It’s a great idea to try out a few of the activities below and see which ones you like best. Having a variety of exercises you enjoy can benefit you even more than sticking to one favorite, since there are many aspects to fitness for older adults that are important to address.
The activities listed below are great for older adults who want to stay active. Try one out today!
If you’re fortunate enough to live where you’re close to accessible trails, there’s no better way to start or end a day than with a hike. Not only will a vigorous hike get your blood pumping, it’s an opportunity to get outside and explore the beauty of nature. Hiking can improve both your physical health and your mood.
One great tool for seniors who like to hike is a set of trekking poles. Trekking poles can help improve balance and endurance while you’re hitting the trails. You’ll also want to find a good pair of shoes to wear that will provide good support — an important part of keeping your back healthy.
If you don’t have easy access to a trail system, don’t worry. You can reap the benefits of a good hike at home with a treadmill, plenty of which are designed with seniors in mind. Set the treadmill to an incline and your heart will be pumping just as hard.
This might be one of the most fun activities on this list. There’s nothing like the feeling of dancing along to your favorite music. It also happens to be a great way to work in some cardio in a way that’s such a good time, you’ll probably forget it’s also a workout.
Dancing not only improves your cardiovascular health, but it’s also great for helping with mobility and flexibility. Surprisingly, dancing also has been shown to have the biggest impact in preventing the development of dementia in aging adults when compared with other common leisure activities.
Check for dance classes in your area; many churches and community centers offer free or inexpensive classes. You can also check out a dance studio for lessons. There are lots of different types of dance to choose from, including salsa, line dancing, and ballroom dance.
While running can be a great aerobic activity, the high-impact nature of the sport makes it hard on joints. Keeping your joints healthy is important in maintaining mobility as you age, and there’s a great alternative to running that can give you similar benefits: cycling.
Cycling is an excellent sport for seniors who want to stay in shape. It provides a great cardiovascular workout and saves your knees and ankles, since it’s a low-impact sport. Cycling can also provide similar benefits to hiking, in terms of getting outdoors and taking time to appreciate nature.
There are cycling groups just for seniors in many cities, which provide great opportunities to get involved in the community and meet new friends. Cycling rates among adults aged 60 to 79 have increased by about 320 percent since 1995. Not only that, being on your bike can reduce how much you need to drive, which has many benefits in itself.
Another great low-impact option that provides a full-body workout, and a lot of fun, is swimming.
Swimming develops a strong core, a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to balance. Researchers found that seniors who swim are much less likely to fall than those who participated in other sports — 33 percent less likely.
The resistance that water provides is also great for building strength in other parts of the body. Moving your normal workout routine, whether walking, running, or lifting weights, into the pool can boost the benefits of those exercises. Being in the water can also help temporarily reduce discomfort if you already have a health condition, such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
Yoga is an exercise with a wide range of mental and physical benefits. It takes a holistic approach to fitness, focusing on both mind and body.
Yoga can help keep you limber, balanced, and pain-free. Maintaining flexibility in your muscles, improving your blood flow, and aiding in surgery recovery are just a few of the many physical benefits of this gentle exercise. Seniors who practice yoga may reduce their chances of a fall as well.
As for the mental perks, yoga can help improve mental clarity through meditation practices. It can also reduce stress. If you suffer from depression and anxiety, yoga may help reduce the symptoms.
If you’re interested in giving yoga a try, call some of your local yoga studios and ask if they have any classes suitable for older adults. Many gyms also offer free yoga classes for their members.
Tips for Starting a Routine
It’s important to take care to prepare for exercise to reduce your risk of injury. There are lots of ways to maximize the benefits you’ll see from exercising. For example, because yoga is gentle on your body, you could pair it with another, more vigorous activity and benefit from both.
Never forget to stretch well before exercising. Develop a consistent routine and you will get the most out of your workouts. And most importantly, try to be as active as you can. The time you put into your body will serve you well, whatever exercise you choose.
Try a new activity today! It might end up being your favorite new hobby.