Seniors need exercise just as much as younger people, but their abilities may be limited or unique due to age and overall health and fitness. Some exercises and activities the seniors should avoid or take caution with include:
- High impact exercises and sudden movements
- Heavy weights
- Inappropriate breathing techniques
Some assisted living communities make choosing exercises easy by giving seniors access to a fitness room or experienced fitness trainers with knowledge of appropriate exercises and activities for seniors. As a loving family member or professional caregiver, it’s important to help seniors understand what exercises they should avoid.
Exercises Seniors Should Avoid
Physical activity is important throughout our lives, and its importance doesn’t diminish as we age. But care must be taken because there are some exercises and activities that likely aren’t suitable for many seniors.
High-Impact Exercises & Sudden Movements
Seniors need to take caution with high-impact or plyometric exercises such as running and jumping because these exercises can cause a lot of stress to the joints. Instead, seniors should look for low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming that are gentle on the joints but still provide cardiovascular benefits.
As we age, it is common to experience a decline in bone density and other age-related bodily changes, which can lead to a higher risk for injuries. Research indicates that strength (or resistance) training is beneficial because it can help increase bone density, even for an aging person. So, “heavy” weights will be relative to each individual’s strength and ability.
Flexibility exercises are great for seniors, but it’s important not to overdo it. Over-stretching can lead to muscle strains or tears, which can take longer to recover than it would for younger individuals. Seniors should focus on gentle stretches to increase mobility instead of forcing their bodies into complex positions. Seniors should also consult with their healthcare practitioner if there are any pre-existing muscle and joint conditions or injuries.
Inappropriate Breathing Techniques
Seniors with pre-existing respiratory problems or those who use supplemental oxygen should consult their physician before starting any exercise regimen. Improper breathing techniques can cause reduced oxygen levels in the body and increase the risk of hypoxia.
Seniors should focus on breathing deeply and regularly and use appropriate breathing techniques to support their bodies during exercise.
Recommended Exercises for Seniors
The CDC recommends that seniors should get 75 to 150 minutes of activity weekly, depending on the intensity. They also recommend balance training and at least 2 days of strength training weekly.
Walking is one of the easiest and safest exercises that seniors can do. It doesn’t require any special equipment or gym membership. A daily 20 to 30-minute walk can help improve cardiovascular health, maintain bone density, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Walking in a park or a scenic trail can also be a great way to socialize, make new friends, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Yoga is a gentle and low-impact exercise that can help seniors improve their flexibility, balance, and joint health. It includes various poses or asanas that can be modified according to individual needs and abilities. Practicing yoga can also help seniors reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
With online classes available, seniors can also practice yoga from the comfort of their homes. Yogo could also give a senior a chance to socialize in a group setting if they’re part of a senior community.
Strength training can help seniors build muscle mass, improve bone density, and prevent age-related muscle loss. Basic exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges can be done using body weight or lightweight dumbbells for resistance. Seniors should start with lighter weights and gradually increase as they gain strength and endurance.
Swimming can be an excellent form of exercise for seniors as it provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Swimming can help improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength and flexibility, and reduce stress. Seniors can also enjoy swimming as a social activity by joining a water aerobics or aqua fitness class.
Dancing is a fun way for seniors to stay active and improve their physical health. Dancing involves various movements that can help improve balance, flexibility, and coordination. Joining a dance class or participating in a social dance event can also help seniors stay socially engaged and make new friends.
Planning to Stay Active
Staying active is essential for seniors to maintain their overall health and physical function. This may be easier to do when a senior still lives at home or with a loved one, but assisted living may eventually be necessary when a senior can no longer care for themselves safely. Part of choosing a senior community will be finding one that can support one’s desire for healthy aging.
Contact our team at La Vida Llena about a community tour if you or a loved one are considering senior communities in Albuquerque. Come see the level of support and care you can expect in our community.