If you’re a senior, your golden years should be the beginning of a golden era in exercise. Light or moderate, low-impact exercise on a regular basis has been proven to yield significant health benefits for the elderly. Regular exercise and a proper diet can maintain (and even add to) healthy muscle. Exercising enables seniors to maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn helps to prevent falls and related fractures. This is especially important for older adults who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
If you or your loved one has health problems—such as heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity—or are age 40 or older, check with a doctor before beginning a regular exercise program.
According to the Surgeon General, the optimal goal is at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days, preferably daily. So what kind of exercise might be right for you or a senior you know? There are a number of low-impact sports that are ideal for a wide range of elderly individuals – here are just a few:
Swimming is great exercise for any age. Even if you are just going for a leisurely dip, swimming strengthens muscles and keeps your lungs healthy. Many assisted living homes and community centers offer water aerobics classes which are great for exercise. They work muscles you probably didn’t know could be worked and you’ll get great exercise.
Shuffleboard is often overlooked as good exercise, but it’s a fun game for seniors and provides great physical activity. There are many different ways that this can be performed — you can play one on one or two on two and even play in a tournament. Just grab your friends and form a group to play shuffleboard. You’ll definitely get exercise while having a great time.
Bowling is great because it promotes healthy competition and is fun at the same time. You’re probably thinking about how heavy a bowling ball is, but there are sizes and weights for people of all ages and abilities, so do not be discouraged by the weight. Bowling is a great way to bond with friends and make new ones.
What is pickle ball? It’s a net game played with a racket and a large whiffle ball by men and women of all ages. Essentially, it is tennis or ping-pong with a larger ball. The game can be picked up very quickly and is less stressful on the joints than other racquet sports.
For anyone who has bad joints, bike riding is a great sport. It’s less harsh on your joints than running or many other sports. It can also be very relaxing, with the wind in your hair and the beautiful scenery that can come with a bike ride. One downside to riding a bike is that it can be expensive to buy a new bike, but the good news is that you can rent or buy a used bike for little money.
Regardless of what activity you or your senior loved one decide to take up, the important thing is to exercise regularly, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Regular activity is not only good for the body, it’s good for the soul. Especially outdoor activities where sunshine and fresh air can brighten a gloomy outlook and encourage a positive attitude.