Shake, Rattle, and Roll!
Your body was made to move! Have you ever noticed that kids can’t sit still. They instinctively know that they are supposed to move. They just run around for the fun of it. What activities do you do for fun? Have you ever associated exercise with fun?
We know exercise is good for us. As we get older, we tend to start to lead a more sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to decreased flexibility, strength, and balance. Exercise can prevent this loss, along with helping promote mental acuity, prevent depression, improve digestion, improve muscle tone, increase bone strength, improve bowel and bladder function, increase energy, improve the immune system, decrease risk of falls, decrease fear of falling, and increase confidence.
I thought I would take some time to list a few activities that can be geared for seniors. I am hoping you might find one of these exercises fun and include them into your lifestyle if you have not already. In my web searches, I found some clips on YouTube of seniors that I found inspiring performing some of these activities. They definitely prove that you are never too old to exercise.
If you are in good health, walking is easy. Walking is a great way to spend time with a friend or pet or do some window shopping at the mall. You don’t even have to make walking an “exercise”. Just park your car farther away at the store . Take the steps instead of the elevator if you are able. You might be able to find a senior hiking club to join in your area.
Do you know that senior runners 50 years and older are one of the fastest growing age groups to participate in marathons? Running is not one of the exercises I recommend starting if you have never ran before, but I have read of marathon runners that just started running at age 50. I prefer to walk myself, but some seniors who were runners previously in their lifetime can still enjoy running as they grow older with the proper training and watching their nutritional needs closely.
Water therapy is good in so many ways. The only drawback is you have to find a pool with easy access. Good news for those of you who are too shy to wear a swimsuit, they make water clothes that are just like wearing a shirt and shorts.
The buoyancy of the water helps to take weight off your joints. The viscosity of the water adds resistance. You can do both cardio and strength training in the water. You can enjoy the water on your own or take a class.
Bicycling is another low impact exercise that has cardio and strengthening benefits. I did not know there were so many types of bikes until I did some research for this blog. For those of you who have enough balance to ride a bike but have trouble getting on and off the bike don’t worry. They make step through bikes, semi-recumbent bikes, and EZ boarding bikes just for that purpose.
Then there are stationary bikes for those that do not have the balance to ride a road bike or for those bad weather days. I would recommend the stationary recumbent bike as it gives your back support, it is easier to get on and off, and helps you sit more upright as you pedal. I have one myself and they are easy to sit on and pedal while you watch TV or read a magazine. You even have the option to remain in your own comfortable chair and use a pedal exerciser that you place on the floor and pedal away.
Check out Octavio Orduno riding a road bike at 102-years-old.
Strength training can begin right in your own home while you are sitting and watching TV or you can get out and go to a gym. It is easy to start for those who are not very active. Strength training benefits muscle strength, bone integrity, balance, and coordination. Studies have shown that strength training even at 90 years old is safe and beneficial. I do recommend that you get a professional instructor when starting a strength training program.
When we think of yoga- we often think of someone twisted up like a pretzel. That you have to be “flexible” to do yoga. Well, that is not true. There are several types of yoga and most of them can be adapted for seniors.
Do you know there is even chair yoga and water yoga? Yoga can benefit your flexibility, strength, decrease stress, cardiac status, and bone strengthening. Even though you can learn yoga on your own through books or DVD’s, if you are new to yoga, it is best you find a class and instructor that can give you individual attention to be able to modify the yoga and poses to your needs.
Check out 93-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch named Guinness World Records’ oldest yoga teacher.
Tai Chi has been shown to be very beneficial with improving balance, decreasing risk of falls, and also decreasing fear of falling. Tai chi was originally developed by the ancient Chinese for self defense. Tai Chi is a series of movements performed in a slow manner with focus and deep breathing. It is low impact with minimal strain on joints.
Is a great way to be creative and get outside in nature. For those with arthritis and those who can’t kneel, special gardening tools can help make gardening tasks much easier. Long handled and curved tools can give you more leverage. Garden wagons or even just a stool keep you from having to kneel. Make sure you are getting up and stretching and not staying in the kneeling or bending over position for more than 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
Dancing helps improve your balance and walking. Remembering dance steps and sequencing can also boost you memory. There is even chair dancing for all different types of dances including tap dancing, country western, tango and the polka. Join a class or follow along on a DVD.
Check out Sarah Paddy Jones a 75-year-old salsa acrobatic dancer.
Some seniors continue to play sports as they get older. The more popular sports for seniors include tennis, golf, and bowling.
Pick a hobby that gets your body moving in some way. Some popular hobbies you might want to consider: paint, digital photography, birding, building models, scapbooking, volunteering, and knitting.
If you are anti-exercise, remember you don’t have to even start a specific exercise routine. You can just add some “exercise” into your daily routine. You can work on increasing your flexibility while getting dressed by moving your arms and legs through their full pain free range of motion while putting your clothes on. Work on balance while brushing teeth or doing the dishes by narrowing your base of support (putting your feet close together) or even trying to stand on one foot. While you are cleaning, maybe clean a little more vigorously. Get creative.
*Important*– ALWAYS contact your doctor before starting any exercise regimen or adding any activity to your regular routine. If you have any type of medical condition or disability it is best to seek out a professional instructor or contact your local physical therapist to help you get a good start on a program designed just right for you.
Things you want to remember with any of these exercise regimens:
- maintain good posture throughout the activity
- learn how to take your heart rate and monitor it throughout the activity
- wear the proper attire
- do not exercise in the heat or bad weather
- pace yourself
- listen to your body
Have a Happy Day! Helping You Move Forward in Life with Confidence!
Blog medical disclaimer: By reading this blog, you agree not to use this blog as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having. Consult your physician before starting any of the above activities.