No matter your age, size or shape, it’s never too late to start exercising. From improving your mood and energy levels to lowering your risk of illness and disease, there’s really no reason not to. Well, except for the fact that you may not know where to start. Whether you haven’t exercised in years or you’re looking for ideas for a loved one, this guide will get you moving:
In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article, “Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults,” researchers identify six simple steps to start your strength training journey.
Step 1: Check with your doctor to see if strength training is safe for you.
Step 2: Find out how fit you currently are. To help you determine your fitness level, the article provides a scorecard with questions such as “I find it easy to walk up or down two or more flights of stairs,” where you answer rarely, sometimes, usually and always for points.
Step 3: Define your strength training goals. These goals should be SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
Step 4: Get the exercise equipment you’ll need such as sturdy shoes, dumbbells or ankle weights, or even a gym membership.
Step 5: Schedule your exercise
Step 6: Exercise safely.
With this as your guide, you’ll be well on your way to safely incorporating strength training into your fitness routine.
Low-Impact Exercise Ideas
Water aerobics is an ever-popular activity among older adults. The buoyancy of the water helps reduce pressure on the joints and the water itself acts as a form of resistance, allowing users to strengthen muscles without lifting heavy weights. But sometimes you just need a change and want to know what your other options are. Here are a few ideas of other low-intensity exercise ideas for fitness seekers:
Brisk walking is one of the best ways seniors can stay in shape and get in the two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity the CDC suggests they do each week. Consider forming or joining a walking club and using an activity tracker to count your steps. The Great Call Lively Wearable is a reliable fitness tracker for seniors. It has a daily step count, provides mind stimulating challenges, health tips and fitness activity ideas. It also has a way to alert someone in the case of an emergency.
Fitness fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program has endured as long as yoga. In addition to improving mental and emotional well-being, the beginner-friendly exercise has multiple physical benefits:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved respiration, energy and vitality
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism
- Weight reduction
- Cardio and circulatory health
- Improved athletic performance
- Protection from injury
To get started, join an online yoga community. At Yoga4Seniors.com, you’ll find a network of yoga teachers dedicated to making yoga practices available and appropriate for older adults.
Whether you’re waltzing to a timeless classic or getting your groove on in a Zumba class, dancing has incredible health benefits, both physically and mentally. Among those perks are improved muscle tone and strength, increased endurance, stronger bones and healthier hearts.
Your gardening efforts are doing more than beautifying your backyard. Digging in the dirt makes you happier and healthier too. For years the hobby has been known to brighten moods and connect gardeners to Mother Earth, but now researchers at the University of Nevada report that physical and visual access to nature can also help people recover from illness quicker, reduces stress and lower blood pressure. Additionally, gardening is a gentle form of exercise. From digging, planting, weeding and watering to trimming and pruning plants, you’ll burn calories, build muscle strength and improve your joint flexibility.
Walk with Ease
The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease program helps participants develop a personalized walking plan, stay motivated, manage pain and exercise safely. The program aims to help participants reduce arthritis pain and discomfort, increase balance, strength and walking pace, build confidence and improve overall health.
Active Choices is a personal telephone-support program designed to encourage older adults to participate in regular physical activity. Set over a six-month period, the program relies on staff and volunteers to provide regular, personalized and brief phone-based guidance and support with mailed follow-ups delivers to the participant’s door.
Active Living Every Day
The ALED program empowers people to change their health habits by taking a personalized approach to focusing on behavior change. The program offers optional online support resources and its courses can be delivered in groups, online or via phone or through face-to-face coaching.
Two programs fall under the Project Enhance umbrella: The EnhanceFitness program and the EnhanceWellness program. The former offers activities that are challenging enough for active older adults, but safe enough for the unfit or more frail. The latter focuses on motivational behavior change intervention for those with chronic conditions. One-hour group classes usually include stretching, flexibility, balance, low-impact aerobics and strength training.
There’s no reason to slow down as you age, and these programs prove there are many options to be fit. Get out there and stay active!
Keri Lunt Stevens is a trained journalist who dabbles in editing, blogging and content marketing. Her experience ranges from entertainment and community news to personal money management and budget travel. She has unabashed dreams to inform and inspire, but secretly just aims to help readers stop being stupid with their money. Keri spends her free time planning future trip itineraries, biking, reading, and trying to figure out how to earn more air miles.