The best way to be healthy as we age is to stay active. Being intentional about moving in a safe environment can prevent and reduce medical problems and pain for seniors. When seniors stop moving, they can lose range of motion and functionality in their muscles. Exercise improves posture and balance, making a senior less likely to fall.
How Movement is Important for Senior Health
According to Kathy Stover, the program director of physical therapy at Bon Secours in Virginia, the most important body parts for seniors to exercise on a regular basis are shoulders, leg and hip muscles and quadriceps. Walking is one of the best ways for seniors to stay active, especially in the warm weather. Seniors can also find ways to fit exercise in their daily lives, such as standing at the kitchen sink and kicking their legs out to each side. Start small by balancing on one foot for a few seconds. This can engage the core and hip muscles.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Use your interests to make moving even more fun. Window shop while walking laps in a mall, listen to music while weight training, take photographs on a nature hike, or meet new people at a senior exercise class. Stover said aquatic exercise classes are a perfect way for seniors to stay active because it puts virtually no stress on the joints and muscles. Stover added, “They are in a controlled and safe environment and they are able to socialize.”
Even seniors who are wheelchair bound can exercise. Lifting weights and chair aerobics are good ways to improve their bone and muscle density.
Seniors should always take extra precautions and consider health risks when beginning a new exercise regimen. Consulting a physician is never a bad idea, especially if you have preexisting conditions. Start slow and steadily increase your time and intensity when you feel comfortable. Most importantly, listen to your body: if something hurts or feels unusual, that is usually a message to slow down.