Staying physically active and fit is important to everyone, including seniors. The golden years are not the time to give up on exercising. In fact, aerobic activity, resistance training, and flexibility, are extremely important to maintaining good health. The best part is, it’s never too late to start!
The Benefits of Seniors Staying Active
Getting your heart pumping several times a week has many benefits, including keeping blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure in check, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the risks of heart disease and inflammation.
Exercises that challenge and build your muscles and can help to ward off osteoporosis, maintain strength for activities of daily living, and promote better balance, among many other benefits. Regular exercise also boosts your mood and can help you sleep, too.
Staying Active at Home
You don’t even need to join a gym to get started. There are many options for keeping fit right in your own home. Read on for seven easy—and fun—ideas for living room workouts.
1. Resistance Bands
These colorful, stretchy exercise bands can give you a complete strength-training workout in 20 minutes, with no jarring movements. They’re inexpensive, easy to store, good for all fitness levels, and work your muscles in a different way than any other type of resistance equipment. When starting off, buy several bands with different levels of resistance (they are color-coded for “weight”). As with any exercise, start low and go slow.
2. Hand Weights
Weight training tones your muscles, builds muscle mass, strengthens your bones and joints, and can even improve mental health. If you’re new to using weights, start with one- or two-pound dumbbells and work your way up gradually. Make sure to warm up before workouts, and to leave a day or two in between weight training to allow your muscles to recover.
3. Everyday Items
Don’t have access to bands or weights? No problem! Items you have right in your home–like water bottles, soup cans, and detergent bottles–can provide all the resistance you need.
4. Mat Exercises
There are many mat workouts that are appropriate for seniors. Gentle yoga or Pilates, tai chi, balance exercises and core workouts can help keep you strong and flexible. Strengthening your core is great for warding off lower back and hip pain.
5. Walking in Place
Put on your favorite music and get walking! Get those knees up and those arms moving, and before long your heart will be pumping. This can make for great exercise when you can’t get outside to walk.
6. Flexibility Exercises
Stiff joints and poor range of motion in shoulders, hips and knees can all be improved by stretching regularly. If balance is a problem, consider a seated stretching routine, or one that can be done seated or lying on a mat. Check with your doctor or physical therapist if you’ve had joint replacements or back problems before beginning a stretching regimen.
7. Chair Aerobics
It’s easy to get your heart rate up with a good chair aerobics routine. Seated jumping jacks, reaches, marching, kicks, and arm circles are just a few of the moves that can help give you a great workout.
Why Wait to Get Moving?
If you have trouble getting started, there are lots of great workout videos and other resources online that can help you create the perfect living room gym. Remember, your senior years are not time to rest on your laurels. Get moving now!