As we age, fitness becomes more, not less, important! Yes, this is true even if you are coping with health conditions, even if you are struggling with pain, even if mobility is reduced, and even if you are worried about falling. In short: there is no excuse not to focus on this essential aspect of health. Senior fitness programs can be tailored to your specific needs and to your individual goals. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and this is great news for those who want and need to become more active.
Fitness for Seniors: Tips and Program Options for You!
Studies show that physical activity is the number one contributor to longevity – even if you are just starting your fitness journey as a senior! But besides adding years to your life, you can increase the quality of those years by increasing energy, protecting your heart health, managing symptoms, managing weight, and maintaining independence. Exercise is also essential for mood and memory. It is truly amazing what physical activity can do for us.
Now, some seniors are worried about starting a fitness program if they have been sedentary or if they have challenges with balance or mobility. These are reasonable, valid concerns. However, they are not excuses to leave exercise out of your life!
The best way to proceed is to:
- Check with your doctor. He or she can give you recommendations for starting a senior fitness program that works for you. For example, if balance is an issue, you can complete exercises from a chair – everything from strength-training to Zumba can be done seated.
- Start slowly. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. This can seem overwhelming, but remember, this is about 20 minutes per day (7 days a week) or 30 minutes per day (5 days a week). You can also break this up into manageable chunks. For example, do 10 minutes of strength training in the morning, a 10 minute walk in the afternoon, and a gentle 10 minute stretching routine in the evening. Start where you are and build from there.
- Find activities you enjoy and that meet your needs. If you have joint pain, for example, walking and other weight-bearing activities can be difficult (at least initially). Swimming, chair yoga, tai chi, and other activities can help you get your minutes in while protecting your joints and helping strengthen your body.
- Do a variety of different types of exercise. When you are planning your fitness program, include:
- Cardio. This gets the heart pumping. Try walking, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, or another activity that interests you.
- Strength. It is important to maintain and build strength as we age. You can use free weights, resistance bands, and even your own body weight. Depending on your current fitness level, you can do moves such as wall push ups and standing or seated toe raises, knee raises, and calf raises.
- Flexibility. Keep your body limber and maintain your range of motion with activities such as yoga, dynamic stretching, or tai chi. This will make a big difference in daily activities as well.
- Balance. This is a big consideration for older folks. Work on your balance to improve posture and reduce the risk of falls. Yoga is once again a great option.
- Keep with it. Integrate activity into your daily routine. Fortunately, there is a wide variety from which to choose so you never have to get bored. Maybe now is the time to try water aerobics, body weight strength training, pilates, dance, yoga, resistance band workouts, swimming, cycling (indoors is great too!), and fun classes in your community. Virtually any activity can be modified for your fitness level!
- Enjoy your progress. Respect your body enough to start at your own level and honor the changes you see in your physical fitness, mood, and energy. It may mean that you struggled to walk continuously for ten minutes and now you are up to 15 – and still going strong! It may mean you started with chair Zumba and are now up and dancing. It may mean you were walking an hour each day and you have now added strength training three days a week. It may mean that you can do your regular routine without as many aches and pains because your body is getting stronger.
Whatever progress means for you, be proud. And keep with it!
Senior Fitness Programs
Integrating socialization with physical activity can be a great way to increase motivation – and the results you see. If you have an exercise buddy you can walk with, for example, you tend to hold yourself more accountable.
You can also ask your healthcare provider about senior fitness programs. Cano Health, for example, offers a variety of wellness options, including:
- SilverSneakers. This program is designed for people 65 years and older. It is included in many Medicare Advantage plans and you can benefit from senior classes and at-home workouts.
- Laughter Yoga. Laughter is the best medicine, and we boost its powerful effects with yoga! Fitness should be fun.
- Music and Dancing. You don’t need to be Fred Astaire to participate. You can even have two left feet. All you need is a good attitude – and a water bottle.
- Cano Life. This is a great rewards program we offer to our patients. You earn points for participating in wellness activities and preventative care services. Fitness is its own reward, but it is nice to have a little extra incentive!
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of fitness for seniors. It not only adds years to your life, but life to your years. It is never too late to start, and exercise is for every body.
>>> To get started with senior fitness programs or create one that works for your needs, contact Cano Health at 855.CANOMED (855.226.6633). We are excited to help you take the next steps on your fitness journey.