We’ve said it before, and we’re going to keep on saying it: exercise is a necessary part of healthy and enriched senior living.
Engaging in regular physical activity as an older adult promotes the kind of aging that everyone wants—senior living that is independent, robust, and free of chronic illness or disability. Exercise helps fight a number of diseases and conditions that encroach on senior wellness like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and even mental decline. The list keeps on growing.
Establishing an exercise routine also enhances senior living by promoting good health—better circulation, lower weight, less stress as well as stronger muscles, bones, and organs.
Our bodies change as we age, so healthy senior living has its own set of guidelines. The senior wellness experts at Deupree recommend a routine that incorporates strengthening exercises twice a week and about two and a half hours a week of a low-impact activity like walking, but you should always talk to your healthcare provider before you begin a new exercise routine.
Here are a few other tips for staying active in your senior living:
- Add a few no-fuss activities to your day. Even the busiest older adults can find time for a 15-minute exercise break. Start with a 10-minute walk in the hallway or outdoors then add a few higher impact exercises like stretches.
- Ease into your exercise. If you don’t warm up your muscles before you work out, you can cause serious damage by trying to do too much, too soon. While senior wellness experts advise against pre-exercise stretching, taking a few laps around a track or court helps get the blood pumping without risking any damage.
- Build a strong core. The muscles in your middle are the fulcrum at which other muscles pivot. Without a sturdy core, activities as simple as walking can cause muscle strain. There are plenty of activities that help build core strength, talk to your healthcare provider to find an exercise that’s right for you.
- Try yoga. This particular kind of stretching exercise helps improve flexibility, range of motion and strength in a way that other activities can't. Plenty of retirement communities and senior centers offer classes for older adults. Find a local class and start stretching your way to better health.
- Keep things interesting. Adding variety to your routine stops you from stagnating and keeps you from getting bored. You should also try working out with others if exercise is usually a drag.
- Build lower body strength. Integrate squats into your exercise routine to maintain leg and lower-back strength and prevent injury. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and squat, back straight, until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground; rise slowly. Repeat up to 20 times.
- Find your balance. Equilibrium decreases with age, resulting in an increased potential for falling. If you don’t have access to specialized equipment like the Biodex system at Deupree House, there are plenty of home exercises you can do to work on your balance.
- Strengthen your joints. Many older athletes are startled when they hurt their shoulders or knees after years of injury-free exercise. These kind of joint injuries occur because water content in tendons and ligaments decreases with age, leading to brittleness. Lifting weights, even something as light as a basketful of laundry, is a great way to maintain limber ligaments and tendons.
- Know when to take it easy. Being able to read your body becomes more important with age as recovery times lengthen. Small pains can turn into major injuries when you don’t back off, so stop pushing through the pain and take at least one day off every week.
If you want to begin working towards a healthier lifestyle, talk to a wellness expert about the changes you can make to lead a more active senior life. Deupree residents (and staff!) can find assistance in beginning a program at the Fitness Zone by contacting our Wellness staff at 561.6363 ext. 6669.