“The main objective of physical activities for elderly is to stay healthy, not to tire themselves.”
Being physically active for a person of any age makes them healthy and strong.
This fact is also true for the elderly, although there are different considerations as we age due to changes in the body, it still remains important: that can, and should, continue to be active.
By being active, seniors can improve their physical and mental health and can even help control various diseases that come with increasing age.
You may have some concerns and questions regarding these facts. Questions like:
- Should my elderly parent be exercising at such a fragile age? And, if yes, then what are the best exercises for seniors?
- Is it safe to exercise with a pre-existing medical condition?
- How much exercise should an elderly person do daily?
- How does being physically active improve the physical and mental health of an elderly person?
We will talk about the above questions and essential physical activities for elderly in this article. So, let’s first talk about the benefits of being physically active for elderly.
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How Being Physically Active Helps Elderly
It is true that with increasing age, many experience several common health issues ranging from physical problems to mental problems.
With aging, bones weaken, muscle mass and flexibility start decreasing, decreased cognitive function and mobility.
It’s unfortunate that there is little that can be done to eliminate these problems. But also is not lost as you can find ways to reduce and control these decreases through a healthy diet and lifestyle.
So, here are some benefits that will help you understand how being physically active helps you.
Benefits of Physical Activities for Elderly
Improved overall health – Being physically active helps you improve physical and mental health. It does this by:
Strengthen Bones – You can strengthen your bones and increase muscle mass by exercising and being physically active.
Elevated mood – You can also improve your mental health through physical activities for seniors. Physical activities release feel-good chemicals, endorphins, and serotonin that help relieve stress.
Improved mental health – Physical activities and exercises can also reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. Physical exercises improve brain functions, reduce the chances of getting dementia, and prevent memory loss.
Helps to maintain balance – Strength training and cardio exercises can help you with coordination, mobility, and balance issues. It reduces the risk of falling which is common in old age.
Helps to maintain a healthy weight – Through physical activities for elderly, you can reduce unwanted body fat levels and improve metabolism and digestive function. It helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the body and reduces the risk of diabetes.
Supports heart health – By including healthy activities in your daily routine, you can control your weight and avoid possible diseases that occur with age. You can control your cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of having heart-related diseases.
How Much Physical Exercise Do Older Adults Need?
The elderly need to know the answer to this question so that they do not overexert themselves or perform any kind of rigorous exercise that can be harmful to them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention US, older adults should follow the following guidelines –
- Seniors aged 65 or older should do about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity or 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activities five days a week.
- That means one should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activities every week.
- Moderate-intensity exercises include walking, yoga, and swimming while vigorous-intensity exercises include jogging, hiking, running, biking, etc.
- Apart from this, you should also do the best exercises for seniors related to muscle strengthening and body balance two days a week.
Best Exercises for Seniors
In this section, we will talk about those physical activities for elderly which will help to improve their overall health. Here is a physical activities list that is categorized into three parts, where the benefits of these exercises will also be talked about.
Aerobic or Cardio Exercises
Aerobic exercise is also known as cardio or endurance exercise.
During this exercise, breathing becomes faster, and because of that, the flow of oxygen in the body increases, and the heart beats faster.
It improves blood flow in the body’s muscles and to the lungs.
Cardio exercises increase stamina, strengthen the heart, and reduce the risk of stroke and heart-related diseases. Along with this, blood pressure also remains under control.
That’s why cardio exercises are great for the well-being of older adults. Here are some cardio physical activities list that you can do –
- Cycling – Low-impact pedaling strengthens legs and heart. It is also an enjoyable group activity.
- Brisk Walking
- House cleaning
- Climb Stairs
- Water Aerobics
Muscle and Bone Strengthening Physical Activities For Seniors
As age increases, muscles become weak, and bone density begins to decrease, which gradually leads to difficulty in functioning.
Therefore, it is essential to be physically active and exercise to strengthen the muscles. Through these types of exercises, posture improves, and the risks of having osteoporosis, fractures, and chances of falls are also reduced.
Mood and mental health also improve through these exercises. Not only this, but through these exercises you can easily do your daily routine work without anyone’s help.
So, here are some muscle and bone-strengthening physical activities for elderly –
- Weight lifting – Lifting light weights maintains and builds muscle mass and increases bone density. And with increased muscle mass, you also improve your metabolism.
- Using resistance bands – resistance bands are lightweight and easy to use, and various types of exercises can be done by using resistance bands.
- Stairs climbing
- Lifting and carrying small items around the house
Exercises To Improve Limited Mobility and Flexibility
As we age, the mobility of the body also reduces which causes many problems like falling, loss of body balance, and weak muscles.
These obstructions cause joint pain, difficulty in walking, and even performing small daily tasks. Joint pain can be reduced through exercise done to improve mobility and flexibility so that you can move easily without any hindrance.
Not only this, these exercises also reduce the risk of falling and muscle injury. So, here are some mobility and flexibility-related physical activities for older adults –
- Tai Chi – It is a slow and flowing motion form of exercise that improves balance, strength, and mindfulness.
- Stretching – It improves muscle flexibility of the body thereby improving physical mobility.
- Yoga – Gentle poses increase flexibility, breathing, and relaxation.
- Walking heel to toe
- Wall pushups
Things Older Adults Should Keep in Mind
Exercise is essential for elderly to stay healthy, and it also has various benefits. But in this situation, elderly should also keep some necessary things in mind while exercising or performing any physical activities.
Pre-existence Medical Condition
At this stage of age, exercising or doing excessive physical activity while suffering from any kind of disease or physical condition can cause further harm to you physically.
That’s why discuss your exercise plans with your doctor, especially if you have heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or high blood pressure. This way, you can adjust your exercise accordingly.
Consult Your Doctor
If you plan to do vigorous-intensity exercise, consult your doctor first to see if you are fit to do so. If so, what type of physical activities would be suitable for you?
However, it would be better to avoid contact sports because that may cause fractures or increase the risk of falls.
Allow Time for Warmup and Rest
A person of any age must warm up before exercising and rest afterward. And this process is even more necessary for elderly. Warming up before exercising warms up the body and gradually increases the blood flow to the muscles, helping reduce the risk of any injury and soreness of muscles.
Similarly, cooling off or resting after exercise is also essential, as it helps the heart rate and blood pressure return to normal.
It is essential to drink water before or during exercise or physical activities for elderly. It keeps the body hydrated and thus maintains body temperature. That’s why drink water before, during, and after physical activity to prevent dehydration.
Know your Limitations
The main objective of exercise for elderly is to stay healthy, so do not overexert yourself and exercise knowing your limits.
If you are a beginner, then consult your doctor before doing any rigorous exercise. Along with this, be sure to take short breaks in between exercises.
There is a difference in the exercise of elderly and adults, so with the help of your fitness expert, do specially designed physical activities for elderly. Commit to regular physical activities appropriate for your needs and functional status. Light activity is far better than none.
Physical activities for elderly have numerous benefits that can help them lead a healthy and happy life.
Regular exercise can strengthen bones, support heart health, elevate mood, improve mental health, maintain balance, and help maintain a healthy weight.
Older adults must perform physical activities within their limits and keep in mind their pre-existing medical conditions. By following the recommended guidelines and incorporating the best exercises for seniors, elderly can maintain their physical and mental well-being.