Top 5 Ways for Seniors to Stay Physically Active

Senior couple swimming
July 1st, 2018

One component of aging is usually a decrease in activity, which can result in loss of flexibility, strength and agility. While exercise can’t stop the aging process, it can slow down the effects. Some physical activities are especially beneficial to seniors.

Here are five of the best ways for seniors to enjoy better physical health:

1. Take a Dance Class – A Favorite Way for Seniors to Stay Active

Don’t let a senior just sit in front of the TV imagining what it would be like to be on “Dancing with the Stars.” Find a dance class in your area and encourage them to sign up. Dancing is a fun way to stay active and it provides several key benefits, especially for seniors.

When people stop using their muscles, they become weak. Dance is a great all-over body strengthener. It works the upper and lower body, but most importantly, the core. This helps improve stability and balance, which naturally decline in older people.

Limited flexibility is another byproduct of aging, but it can be postponed by moving in different ways. Dance classes designed specifically for older people will encourage motion without being too stressful on their joints and muscles.

2. Get a Pet

Walking is one of the best ways for seniors to be physical. Owning a pet is also beneficial in other ways, so why not combine the two? Walking a dog motivates seniors to walk, and a walk is more enjoyable when it’s shared with a four-legged friend.

People with pets often walk longer and on a more regular schedule. This exercise helps keep joints moving, even for people with arthritis or other conditions which prevent them from engaging in more strenuous physical activity.

3. Learn a Few Yoga Poses

Yoga may look easy, but it can be quite a workout. Seniors can find classes designed specifically for them which ensure they only do the poses deemed to be safe. Yoga has many benefits for the body, including improving balance and stability, while enhancing strength and flexibility. It also calms the mind, which can be relaxing.

Make sure to find a yoga class for beginners or seniors. Many senior centers and assisted living facilities offer these classes as part of their recreational programs.

4. Build Some Muscle

One of the side effects of aging is the loss of strength. While this may seem inevitable, in reality seniors can reduce the impact by continuing to build muscle. Strength training can be done at home with very little equipment. Buy a pair of one- and two-pound weights or find lightweight items around the house and start with a few basic exercises.

Strength training is something almost everyone can do regardless of physical limitations. Even those who are unable to get up, walk or stand can work on arm muscles from a seated position. Help him or her put on ankle weights and work the leg muscles. This type of exercise improves the ability to stand, to walk, and to lift and carry objects more easily.

5. Go for a Swim

Swimming is a great way to improve heart health, even for those with limited mobility or who can’t tolerate walking or running because of joint problems. Swimming works the entire body in a gentle way. It increases the heart rate to help prevent heart problems. At the same time, it works the muscles for improved strength and tone.

Two options are available with swimming. The senior can either enjoy doing a few laps in the pool or can sign up for water exercises. People who aren’t good swimmers or don’t have the endurance for swimming can still enjoy activities like water aerobics. The water level is low and the exercises are similar to ones done in a traditional class. The water adds resistance for a more powerful workout without increasing pressure on the joints.

These five exercise options show you different ways to encourage seniors to stay physically active and improve overall health. There’s some type of program available for almost anyone to help maintain their current level of physical health and to improve areas they want to work on.