One of the easiest and most important ways for seniors to stay healthy is for them to stay physically active. For some this will mean structured fitness sessions, while for others this will mean finding unique ways to add more physical activity to daily life. We’re going to look at five great ways to get moving and stay active without having to spend hours in the gym.
#1 – Walk
Walking is by far the best and easiest way to stay active and promote good health. Best of all, you don’t have to walk long distances or for long periods of time to get lots of benefit from this activity. Be creative and find small ways walk more each day, such as:
- Walking to the corner for a newspaper
- Walking around the block
- Walking around the living room once or twice
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking your car a few spaces away from the door so you end up walking a little further
- Walking around the local shopping mall
The helpful effects of walking all add up together, so you can get the same benefit from four or five shorter walking activities as you can from one or two longer walking activities.
Dancing is a great way to stay active without feeling as if you’re really exercising. There are many different types of dancing to consider, such as ballroom, square dancing, and the like. If your spouse is not interested in dancing, or if you don’t have a spouse or partner, look for dancing groups and clubs in your area. Most of them welcome new participants and have active members who also need a dance partner as well.
Lots of seniors don’t think about swimming as a way to stay active, but it is actually one of the best options available. Swimming is low impact which means it is gentle on your joints and muscles. It is also an activity you can do at your own pace to match your own fitness level. Even if you don’t know how to swim you can still get the benefits of being in the water by simply walking in the water to allow the resistance to exercise your body.
#4 Do Your Chores
You get fitness benefits just from doing your chores around the house, so make a point of doing something along these lines every day. You might vacuum one day, dust the next day, and sweep on the next day after that. As youíre doing your chores think about keeping your body in a good posture, holding in your abdominal muscles, and using smooth movements as you work.
#5 Gently Stretch And Move
Another great way to stay active, especially if your mobility is limited, is to gently stretch and move your body while seated in a chair. Sit up straight, slowly raise your hands up as far above your head as you can, and then gently bring them back down to your sides. Move your arms in large, slow circles, one at a time to keep from overdoing it. Lift your legs up one at a time, slowly lowering back down to the ground. These are just a few examples of the simple movements you can do to keep your body active; visit your local library or senior center for more information about seated stretching and movement. If you are able to do some more aggressive (check with your doctor first) stretching here is a great resource that will help you to focus on upper body stretches.
#5 Recumbent Bikes
Those that can endure (and are allowed to do so by their physician) may want to try a recumbent bicycle. These cycles are such that you sit down and lean back much like a comfy arm chair. You’re feet are slightly raised to the petals. It is a relaxing position in which you can decide to peddle gently and for however long you are comfortable. There are many options for recumbent cycles. Learn more about recumbent bikes for seniors.
Start slowly and work your way up
You’ve probably heard this lots of times, but before you start any new form of exercise that you haven’t done before it’s important to check with your doctor to be sure you can safely do that activity. Once you get permission to do it, start slowly and work your way up to more activity, longer periods of activity, or a combination of both of these.
Keep a log of your activities each day so you can track your progress and see improvements along the way. Set a goal for yourself, such as walking 500 minutes in a month, and then treat yourself to something special when you reach that goal. All it takes is a little creativity and determination to add healthy activity to your daily life.