types of fitness exercises for seniors

Types of Fitness Exercises for Seniors

For seniors who want to keep fit, there are many exercises that can be performed. But the vast number of exercises available often creates a great deal of confusion because everyone seems to claim that their exercise regimen is the best. The internet is inundated with a variety of types of exercise for seniors, but few have practical applications for the elderly. Many of the exercises recommended are way too strenuous and unrealistic for seniors. Seniors, in general, want to do exercises for functional benefits and not muscle building; they want to perform exercises that will help them with their gait balance, postural stability and relieve joint stiffness.  What are great exercises for fitness for seniors?  Read on for a few tips.

1. Get cleared by your doctor for an exercise program.

If you are a senior who has not been physically active in the past, then before you start any type of exercise, you should see your healthcare provider for a check-up. You need to make sure that your body can withstand the stress of exercise. If you have any health problems, the healthcare provider may recommend specific exercises and follow-up to ensure your safety.

2. Enjoyment.

The number one criterion for exercise for seniors is to select an activity that you are sure to enjoy. For example, if you are just starting out and have never done aerobics, you may get exhausted after the first session and decide not to try it again. You need to select an exercise that you like, and that is compatible with your current fitness level so that you will continue with it and have success with it. The best exercise that most people like is walking, and it is just as good as any exercise in terms of its health benefits.

3. Are you trying to lose weight?

There are dozens of exercises recommended for seniors who want to lose weight. Some are demanding and exhaustive, but if you are just starting out, try walking. You may not lose the weight you want within a month, but if you walk every day 5 days a week, you can lose 2-3 pounds a month and in 12 months, that amounts to nearly 20-30 pounds, which is significant.  It is considered much healthier to lose weight slowly.  You will also be more likely to keep that weight off in the future.

4. Do your joints hurt?

If your joints are stiff and hurt, most experts recommend water-based activities, like swimming. Start by walking in the pool and, as your joints loosen up, you can swim. However, to decrease joint stiffness, water-based activities need to be done regularly. Additionally, any water-based activity creates natural resistance, which is the same as working with light weights in a gym. Water aerobics exercises improve flexibility, balance, and increase strength with minimal stress on the joints.

5. Exercise endurance.

While almost any exercise can increase exercise endurance, aerobics rate at the top. Some of the well-known aerobic exercises to build endurance include cycling, rowing, jumping rope, racquet activities, running, etc. You should attempt to do aerobic exercise for at least 75-150 minutes every week. 

6. Muscle buildup. 

If you want to build muscles, then you will need to work out with weights, do pull-ups, squats, walk up and downstairs, and perform dips. If you are a senior, you should start slowly with these exercises as injuries are not uncommon. As a senior, the last thing you want is to fall and perhaps break a bone.

7. Yoga.

If you want a low-impact exercise that can be done in your home, yoga is highly recommended. When done regularly, yoga can improve mobility, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. The good thing about yoga is that all you need is a mat and a place to perform the exercise. As a bonus, yoga can enhance your mental health, reduce stress, improve the quality of your sleep, and enhance your general well-being. 

8. Pilates is another low-impact exercise that can be performed by seniors.

In Pilates, breathing, concentration, and body alignment are emphasized. Pilates may be done on mats or using balls to help build muscles. When performed regularly, Pilates can help seniors improve balance, strength, and joint flexibility.

9. Walking.

Finally, if you want good exercise for seniors, you will not go wrong with walking. You can walk at your own pace every day and still improve the quality of your life. Even though 10,000 steps per day are recommended for the general population, seniors with arthritis and other health problems may need to settle for lower goals. There is ample evidence showing that walking improves both physical and mental health. In addition, walking is a free activity, can be done almost anywhere, and is devoid of complications. You can enjoy walking more if you can find a companion with the same motivation as you.

Exercises to Avoid

While it is important for seniors to exercise, it is also important for seniors to know what exercises to avoid. The vast majority of exercises are designed with the younger population in mind, instead of seniors. These exercises can put an enormous strain on the body and can result in serious injuries, including falls, muscle tears, joint pain, fractures, and muscle damage. In general, seniors should avoid the following exercises:

  • High-intensity aerobic exercise
  • Long-distance jogging
  • Mountain bike sporting activities
  • Rock climbing
  • Triathlons
  • Workout with weights like bench press, leg press, or squats

Getting Started

If you are considering exercises for seniors or joining a wellness program, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. If you are found to be in good health, look at all the options for community wellness programs.

Fitness for seniors exercises has many health benefits that go beyond the gym. Not only will you develop better physical health, but exercise will improve mental clarity and cognition, and, most importantly, the benefits of exercise are enduring.  Cano Health specializes in senior care.  Call today to learn more about the senior wellness programs.