You can’t turn on the television or read an article without coming across one of the many reasons staying active benefits our bodies and minds. Physical activity at any age helps keep our weight in a healthy range to stave off a number of ailments like heart disease, heart attacks and diabetes, while also benefiting our brains, keeping our mental health intact, warding off depression and negative mindsets.1
Staying active helps seniors maintain their balance, which is especially important in preventing falls. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) article notes, “Making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your life can improve your health and help you maintain your independence as you age … lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.”2
Seniors should also be on the look-out for over-exertion, especially if they haven’t been active in a while as well as potential dehydration. Remember to start slow to minimize the risk of a fall.
Consider the following tips to make the most of getting up, getting out and getting active:
- Make exercise a habit. When exercise is thought of as a chore, the likelihood that you’ll actually engage in it is slim. But when it’s as much of a daily routine as brushing your teeth, it’s easy to see the benefits, and less likely that you’ll injure yourself in the process. Pay attention to your body to prevent overexertion or injury. Exercise should be fun and can be a social occasion — an added benefit!3 Look for regular clubs or classes you can take through local recreation or community centers. See more exercise routines from the NIH.
- Vary your routine. Regular exercise routines are great for maintaining habits, but make sure there is variation within the routine to maximize the benefits, as well as maintaining interest. Seniors should aim for 2+ hours per week of moderate activity, with two days of strength training and three days of balance training.4 Even if you can’t leave your home, you can do chair exercises at any time. In-home caregivers can work with you to find the right chair and get set up for success.
- Stay hydrated. Due to the body’s decreasing ability to conserve water, seniors can be at heightened risk for dehydration.5 Add to the mix the increased effort exerted during exercise, and it’s imperative that seniors drink sufficient amounts of fluids before, during and after physical activity. If you’re drinking the recommended amount of fluids, tack on one to two extra glasses if you’re active.6
- Make exercise a group activity. Many communities offer group exercise programs that are developed specifically for seniors. Not only does this provide seniors with a regular social outlet while helping to make exercise a regular commitment, picking classes specifically for this age group ensures that the exercises they engage in are right for their performance level.