Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind. Exercise is beneficial for everyone, but it’s crucial for seniors.
If you are over 80, exercise may feel like a daunting task. But now more than ever, it’s vital to make exercise a part of your daily routine. Exercise has numerous health benefits and can have immense positive effects on not only your physical health but your mental health as well. In addition, having a good exercise routine also helps prevent future health problems, keeping you happy and healthy long-term.
But what exercises are best for seniors over 80? Keep reading to learn more about why you need daily exercise, the different types of exercises you can benefit from, and the steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Why is Exercise Important for Seniors?
Though physical fitness provides benefits for any age group, the health benefits are incredibly substantial for seniors. Exercise can help seniors live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Some of the benefits of exercising for seniors include:
- It increases independence
- It can improve balance
- It increases energy levels
- It can help prevent diseases
- It can improve brain function
How Often Should Seniors Exercise?
The CDC recommends that the average healthy senior should make sure they are meeting the following criteria:
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes a week
- Muscle-strengthening exercises at least 2 times a week
If you’ve been inactive for an extended period or are suffering from a chronic condition, talk to your doctor about how much exercise is right for you.
Types of Physical Activity for Seniors
There are four main groups of exercise that are important for seniors. These include:
Varying the types of workouts you do can help reduce boredom and lower your risk of injury.
10 Exercises for Seniors Over 80
Here are the top 10 types of exercises seniors over 80 can benefit from:
One of the most accessible forms of exercise is walking. To walk you don’t need any equipment, just time.
Research shows that a healthy amount of steps for the average older adult is 2,000-9,000 steps a day. If you have difficulty walking or suffer from joint pain, set a small daily walking goal and increase it at your own pace.
Water aerobics is a great way to introduce low-impact cardio into your routine and is an excellent option for those living with arthritis or joint pain. Water brings natural resistance without the added stress on your body.
If you are interested in water aerobics, contact your community rec center to see if they offer any programs tailored to older adults.
Yoga is focused on the mind-body connection, offering benefits beyond the physical. It’s a low-impact activity that can:
- Improve balance
- Improve flexibility
- Enhance breathing
- Strengthen bones
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
For seniors with less mobility, yoga has many variations (such as chair or floor yoga) that can be done almost anywhere.
If you’re interested in adding yoga to your exercise routine, you can find free videos on youtube that you can do at home. If you prefer more guidance, look for yoga studios in your neighborhood or explore programs offered by nearby senior living communities.
Resistance Band Workouts
Resistance bands are large rubber strips that you can use to add resistance to your workouts without having to hold additional weight, reducing the stress on your body.
Resistance bands come in different resistance levels, making it easy to start slow and increase intensity as you gain strength.
Click here to explore the top 10 resistance band exercises for seniors.
Like yoga, pilates is a low-impact exercise that focuses on breathing, alignment, and strength. Although similar, where yoga focuses more on flexibility, pilates focuses more on strength.
If you are interested in trying pilates, you can:
- Find free classes and instructional videos on youtube
- Check for pilates classes offered in your neighborhood
- See if senior communities near you offer pilates programs
Body Weight Workouts
Bodyweight workouts are one of the best ways to preserve your muscle mass as you age. Some of the key benefits of bodyweight workouts are that they are easily accessible and affordable. Bodyweight workouts don’t require special equipment and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Click here to find some great bodyweight workouts for seniors.
Dumbbell Strength Training
If you are looking for an activity that is more intense than bodyweight exercises, you may be interested in dumbbell strength training.
Strength training has been shown to:
- Improve strength, flexibility, and balance
- Alleviate the symptoms of certain conditions
- Help control and manage your weight
- Improve and boost your mood
If you’re interested in strength training, start with light weights and increase the weight slowly over time.
Dancing is a great aerobic option for seniors. It can improve your cardio, balance, and mood.
This type of exercise is an excellent option because you can completely personalize it. You can:
- Try different forms of dance
- Dance to different kinds of music
- Dance in a group or by yourself
Another benefit to dance is that it can be nostalgic for a lot of seniors. It can bring back good memories and allow them to explore their favorite music in a new way. Even if someone is entirely new to dance, it can be a fun, easy way to get cardio.
Balance exercises can help build strength while improving posture and coordination. In addition, working on balance can decrease your chance of falling or injury.
Some popular balancing exercises for seniors include:
- Walking heel to toe
- Walking along a straight line
- Balancing on one leg then the other
Swimming is an exercise that can be especially beneficial to seniors. It is an ideal cardio workout because it is low impact, and there is a low risk of injury.
Some more benefits of swimming include:
- Gentle on the joints
- Develops muscles
- Increases flexibility
- Helps improve posture
- Boosts mental health
Regular exercise can lead to a more healthy and fulfilled life, but it’s important to do so safely.
To keep yourself safe when starting a new exercise program, you should always:
- Start slow
- Stay hydrated
- Talk with your doctor
- Slowly expand your routine
- Listen to your body
If you are concerned about your health or are curious about implementing a weekly exercise program, talk to your doctor or contact us today!