While exercise is important for everyone, it's crucial for seniors to maintain independence. When developing a good exercise regime for the elderly, it's vital to incorporate different workouts targeting various body parts. However, it's best to focus on mobility and strength exercises. Here are a few tips to help you create an effective fitness schedule to maintain fitness.
Seniors should commit to at least three hours of non-intensive exercise per week, spread out over a couple of days. The activities may include cycling, walking, dancing, swimming, and nature walks. Walking is among the best cardio exercises for seniors since you can modify the exercise to match the time and distance that feels right for you. It requires excellent balance and can also be effective even when using a walker or a cane.
Cycling can be effective in your fitness schedule whether using a stationary bike or an outdoor bicycle. The exercise uses your hamstrings and quadriceps, which increases blood flow and heart functions. Once you are accustomed to the routine, your body adapts and increases the capacity to withstand the additional load making your heart and lungs stronger. Since it's a low-impact activity, it's ideal for people with joint or muscle problems.
On the other hand, dancing increases the heart rate and improves balance while strengthening your muscles. Since dancing is normally done in a group or pairs, it's also a good way of lifting your spirits due to its social nature.
The aging process significantly reduces muscle and bone mass, but staying active can delay its onset. Resistance training is good exercise for seniors in Longhouse facilities, and it's usually done with free weights, resistance bands and your body weight.
However, it's best to consider training exercises necessary for daily living. For example, you can enhance your ability to stand up without using any help by training your muscles to withstand your body weight. The bridge exercise strengthens your gluteal muscles, which are critical for standing and walking. Similarly, the T-Row exercise strengthens your upper back muscles to enhance your posture.
Flexibility is essential for mobility, independence and strengthening your body for optimum motion. Also, flexibility decreases the needed energy for moving and standing for the elderly. Exercises focusing on hips, shoulders and legs are critical in improving balance.
As you age, your overall health declines and falls can be common, leading to injuries and fractures. While multiple systems work in tandem to help you maintain balance, your musculoskeletal system is vital. Hip flexor stretches help improve your step length when walking to make your movement more efficient. Knee extension exercises improve your ability to walk with straight knees and compensate for the crouched gait. It also lowers back pain issues by elongating your pelvic muscles.
While you should use an exercise plan that you are comfortable with, it's best to settle on a fitness schedule you can stick to for a long time. You can work with a qualified physical therapist or trainer to develop a plan that suits your abilities and lifestyle.