Did you know that more than 12 million seniors have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? While some health concerns are a natural part of aging, people over 65 can take control of their mental and physical health—and exercise is the key.
There are many ways to exercise, ways that any person at any age can do, like swimming, walking, biking, and dancing, to name a few. Being active is important for seniors, both physically and mentally. Exercise may even help you live longer—and it can definitely help you enjoy your golden years more. Here’s how:
- Seniors who exercise will spend 25 percent less time dealing with an injury or a disability.
- Exercise can help your brain produce more endorphins, which are known to help seniors with pain management.
- Seniors can improve bone density and stave off osteoporosis with a regular exercise routine.
- Exercise can boost energy levels and reduce fatigue, even for seniors managing a chronic illness.
- Seniors who exercise regularly see improved blood sugar levels, heart health, and body composition, and a decrease in blood pressure and blood fat levels.
Now, you may be thinking that these benefits only happen for people working out for an hour a day five days a week, or doing high-intensity cardio or lifting massive weights, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, you only need 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise and two days of strength training per week to reap these rewards. Here’s how seniors can get started:
- At-home exercises in the morning: Working out at home comes with a ton of benefits. For example, you can exercise in any weather and on any budget. There are many free online videos you can use for in-home aerobics classes, high-intensity interval training, and yoga. If you’re willing and able to spend a little cash, you can boost your results by purchasing some fitness equipment like dumbbells, a resistance band, a yoga mat, and a balancing ball. If you start out your day with 30 minutes of exercise, you will see both short-term and long-term health benefits rather quickly. Do this five days a week and mix in strength training with cardio to hit the CDC’s recommended goals.
- Walking or jogging with a friend three afternoons a week: Invite a friend to join you for afternoon walks or jogs for 50 minutes three days a week. Exercising with a friend serves several purposes. First, you’ll get some quality social interaction to help prevent isolation, which can be a major issue for seniors. You’ll also boost your physical health, especially if you alternate between jogging and walking. Also known as interval training, this method can help protect you from injury, while also burning more fat.
- Taking a variety of fitness classes: There are so many dynamic and versatile fitness classes available now, and many seniors who participate in Silver Sneakers programs have access to them for free. To help you meet the CDC’s recommendations, take four fitness classes a week, like yoga, Pilates, spin, aerobics, and bootcamp. Be sure to talk to the instructor and make sure they know how to show you modifications to help you stay safe.
- Joining a gym with an indoor track and a pool: Being outside is crucial to mental and physical health, but when the weather isn’t cooperating, it’s good to have a reliable backup. Snag a gym membership where you can swim laps in a pool or walk/jog on an indoor track. Cardio machines are a good backup for these, but it’s important that you give yourself options so your workout doesn’t become boring or stagnant.
If you think it’s too late to see the benefits of exercise in your life, then it’s time to think again. Start making exercise a priority now so you can fully enjoy living your life at any age.
This has been a guest article by Jason Lewis from strongwell.org.