Exercise is important at any stage of your life, but most staying active becomes more important as you age. There are significant health benefits that comes with remaining active into your retirement. As we grow, we become less active, with many of the people retirement age and above having almost no exercise or physical activity at all. Exercising can increase your ability to live independently and can even reduce your fall risk. Experts agree that daily exercise leads directly to extending your lifespan and improving your mental health. While more vigorous activities might not be possible at the age of retirement, there are many different exercises that you can do to increase your physical activity.
Let’s take a look at some of the top exercises for seniors and see which are appealing to you!
- Fitness Classes
- Bodyweight training
Regardless of what your prior exercise experience has been, any of these physical activities are possible with little to even no training. Maybe one of your passions is on this list, or maybe something you’ve always wanted to try. Step out of your comfort zone or relive your sport star past. Finding an activity that you can accommodate into your life is extremely important. Most of all, choose something you enjoy doing!
There is a reason that swimming is on the top of our list of best activities for seniors, in that it’s an ideal workout. With very little risk of injury, and a low stress environment, there are so many opportunities to work swimming into your routine. Water workouts focus on all the major muscles without the strain of walking, or other activities outside of the pool. Along with the low impact, there are specific health benefits that swimming can provide you:
- Increases flexibility
- Improve muscle strength
- Reduced risk of Osteoporosis
One of the most prevalent forms of exercise, this can be incorporated extremely easily into your everyday life. Whether you change your form of transportation to walking more often than driving or taking public transit, or simply enjoy a stroll in the park, adding walking to your schedule is a breeze. While there is more impact in walking than swimming, there are no required materials needed, and it can be completed wherever you are! Retiring in a location with good weather, can encourage and even increase the amount of walking that you do, if there are more interesting sites to see. Some of the specific health benefits associated with walking are:
- Improves Cardiovascular health
- Boosts your immune system
- Prevents and reduces Arthritis pain
Not only a fun exercise, but an effective health benefit as well, dancing is one of the most energizing activities on this list. Nothing makes you want to exercise more than an activity that you can laugh and enjoy doing. There are many different ways that you can incorporate dancing into your routine. Whether you’re dancing by yourself, as a part of an exercise class, or even out for dance lessons, there are countless options for dancing no matter where you live. Find a style that’s right for you and get your groove on! Don’t let the fun fool you, dancing has many health benefits as well, including:
- Minimizes symptoms of Depression
- Reduces joint pain and stiffness
- Defends against Dementia
One of the most intimidating exercises to begin as an adult is yoga. You see people standing on their heads, holding poses for long periods of time, and even balancing on one leg. Don’t worry, not all yoga requires defying gravity. Beginners yoga is a great activity to remain active and reduce your level of stress. Equate this exercise to mild stretching and a relaxation technique. Many retirement communities or gyms have beginning yoga classes with instructors willing to show you the ropes. Some of the benefits of adding yoga to your routine are:
- Increased flexibility
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Promotes good bone and joint health
This is one of the exercises that requires access to a gym or recreation center, many retirement communities have access to these amenities. Local gyms may have senior discounts as well, to allow participation in fitness classes. From Zumba to water aerobics, beginner yoga to pilates, there are many fitness classes to try. The fun of this workout is you never have to do the same thing twice, you can also do this with your spouse, a group of friends, or some friendly new faces. With varying times throughout the day, fitness classes are a great opportunity to stay active through your retirement. Not only does this workout provide health benefits, but an added social aspect as well allows for an increase in social conversation, decrease in stress, and benefitted moods.
There are a few different ways that you can incorporate cycling into your exercise regime. While not recommended for beginners, outdoor flat roads are ideal biking for seniors, as there is a reduced impact on the joints. Outdoor biking also allows you the opportunity to get outside and can even act as a method of transportation. For those who are either beginning bikers or uncomfortable riding outside, stationary bikes are plentiful at rec centers, private gyms, and even retirement community amenities. This low-impact form of cardio is a great way to stay active, with a low-risk of injury and different levels for everyone.
Many of the discusses exercises above are considered bodyweight training, however there are circuits and other exercises you can do to increase muscle. When gym equipment seems daunting, or you have no access to any other form of exercise, here are some beneficial exercises you can do to help increase your mobility and build and keep muscle.
- Chair Squats – one of the most functional exercises, this strengthens the lower body and your core. Simply stand and sit in a chair, then repeat.
- Wall Push-ups – improve your upper body strength with this exercise. Stand arm’s length away from the wall, bend your elbows diagonally until your heels come off the floor, then push your hands to return to the start position.
- Arm and Leg Raise – strengthen your core with this workout. On your hands and knees, raise the right arm and the left leg at the same time, hold, then repeat with the left arm and the right leg.