Regardless of age, the advantages of remaining physically active far outweigh any obstacles encountered, and it’s vital for older adults’ health and overall wellbeing to maintain as active a lifestyle as possible. Even though it’s particularly challenging for seniors with a more sedentary lifestyle to exercise, there are a variety of senior fitness options available to strengthen muscles, enhance flexibility and resistance.
First, be sure to check with the older adult’s primary care physician to get a recommendation and approval for a senior fitness program that can be put into place for him or her. When first initiating the exercises, bear in mind that even just a few minutes per day, repeated several times during the day, can have a significant impact on the senior’s health.
Following are several types of exercise to consider for older adults:
- Aerobics: If total body movements are not possible for the older person, these exercises can be tried to build cardio strength:
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Tai Chi
- Resistance: To build muscle mass, exercising with resistance weights (like elastic bands) are great. These bands come in a variety of tensile strengths for differing strength levels. The Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences describes that even just one day each week of strength training helps seniors maintain independence and can even reduce the risk of injury.
- Flexibility: Stretching improves flexibility and freedom of movement. Seek out a yoga class at the local senior or recreation center.
- Specifically for Alzheimer’s: In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a variety of exercises can be tried that may work well for the individual, and with increased supervision and alterations, can be continued as the disease progresses. Because repetition is very often a comfort to those with Alzheimer’s, activities like folding laundry, walking, and riding a stationary bike can be helpful for both the senior’s physical and emotional state.
Motivating your senior loved one to begin and then stick with a senior fitness program is key. Try these tips to help make it something fun that the older adult will look forward to:
- Join in the exercise program with your loved one. It’s always more fun with a friend.
- Include his or her favorite, upbeat music when exercising.
- Set aside dedicated time every day for exercise, and make it a priority.
- Rewards and incentives for achieving milestones can provide great inspiration.
For more strategies on helping older adults increase activity levels, contact the Nashville home care experts at Caregivers By WholeCare. Our fully trained and experienced in-home caregivers help older adults thrive, and we love nothing more than knowing the seniors in our care are healthy and enjoying life to the fullest! Contact us at (615) 997-1288 for more information on setting up a senior fitness program to improve quality of life for your senior loved one!