The importance of physical workouts for health cannot be overemphasized. Physical exercises are usually a welcome relief for many senior citizens, many of whom may be in nursing homes. Even for those that live at home, physical workouts are more than just activities for keeping the body healthy. They are great stress relievers and offer a way for social interactions. For example, a facility providing care for seniors can come up with programs to help them live better. This new program for seniors must include physical activities to cater to them. Many senior citizens spend their days cooped up in their rooms with limited physical activity and interactions. Such workout programs, when performed outdoors, give them a chance to exercise their bodies and have some social interactions. These are beneficial for both their physical and mental health.
Many health practitioners and those that care for senior citizens routinely emphasize the need for a program that ensures that such people are in good health. Usually, a senior citizen is defined as someone over the age of 65. They tend to be prone to injuries due to awkward falls and other health conditions associated with a lack of enough physical activity. A good workout program ensures that they can go about their daily lives normally, performing tasks like bathing, toileting, and others with ease. It also helps avoid injuries like fractures due to awkward falls, a phenomenon commonly associated with prolonged physical inactivity in the elderly.
It’s always crucial to remember that while exercise is beneficial, too much physical workout is a dangerous thing. It can lead to injuries like stress fractures. For senior citizens, this is a crucial factor in determining the type of exercise they should engage in.
A good exercise program for senior citizens should emphasize body balance, mobility, aerobics, and strength. A combination of any of them will achieve the desired results.
Best Aerobic Exercise for Seniors
The following exercises are recommended for seniors to ensure that their heart and breathing can benefit. It’s best to limit the time spent on these exercises as many of them can get very strenuous. A good rule of thumb is to have the senior citizen put in no more than 3 hours of these exercises per week. Spreading them over several days is best. These exercises include:
i)Cycling: This is one of the best cardio exercises, meaning the heart greatly benefits from it. Whether riding a bicycle outside or indoors, this type of exercise gives the leg muscles like the quadriceps a good workout. This results in an increased heart rate as the body tries to up the energy demand to the muscles. If done regularly, it will improve heart function.
ii) Walking: Good, old-fashioned strolls can be very effective if done right. Of course, walking has to be brisk in order to have any benefits for the heart. For seniors that prefer nature walks, the beach or any outdoor terrain will do. Walking for half an hour is usually sufficient to gradually improve heart function.
iii) Dancing: Dancing has other benefits besides increasing your heart rate and improving your function. Dancing helps with good balance while also exercising and strengthening several muscle groups simultaneously.
Best Strength Training for Seniors
Seniors citizens experience reduced muscle mass as a consequence of senescence. However, regular strength training can help to slow this natural progression. The intensity of such exercises doesn’t need to be at the level of professional bodybuilding. A good exercise for strengthening gluteal and back muscles is called the bridge. Here, a senior lies flat on the bed or floor. They then raise their knees while their backs and feet are rooted to the ground, creating an almost 45-degree angle. They can then raise and lower their hips repeatedly. This is great for exercise and conditioning of the involved muscles. This is one of several strength training exercises that’s just right for senior citizens.
Flexibility for seniors means more and easier mobility. This helps them do many things on their own. For example, they can use the bathroom without the physical support of an attendant. A good exercise for flexibility is hip flexor stretching. Here, the senior lies on a bed while one leg is on the ground. The other leg is then folded tight toward the chest while being supported by the hands. The hip and thigh muscles of the hanging leg should feel the stretch of this exercise. Holding this position for about 30 seconds achieves the needed effect. This can be repeated for the other leg too.
Other flexibility exercises similar to this include the knee extension stretch which helps to have flexible and strong knees.
Ultimately, the best workout for senior citizens should involve a combination of the above exercises. This ensures that they can get the heart benefits of cardio workouts, the flexibility due to stretching, and the needed physical strength achieved by regular strength training.