It’s important for people of all ages to get regular physical activity. Countless studies have shown its positive effects on physical, mental, and emotional health. However, as you age, you might face concerns about injury. You might also wonder what sorts of activities are feasible for you. But staying fit doesn’t need to mean hours at the gym lifting weights! The important thing is to be moving around as much as possible, and to reduce the time you’re sitting.
A study in 2012 found that those who sat for more than 8 hours a day increase their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 90%! At the same time, a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that those who simply fidgeted while sitting reduced their risk of all-cause mortality. Clearly, it takes less effort than you’d think to stay healthy. The key is to put the effort in and find what works for you! Remember to ask your doctor before embarking on any fitness regime.
Here are four ways that you can stay active!
Choose Active Hobbies
A fun and simple way to stay active is by pursuing specific hobbies. You’ll want to choose ones that get you moving – even if it’s just in your backyard! Gardening is a great choice that many seniors like. Moving from kneeling, sitting, and standing is important for your bones and muscles to keep their strength. Working with your hands promotes brain and physical coordination.
The best part is, you can make it as comfortable as you like, and go at your own pace. You can buy a kneeling pad to ease some pressure off your knees. You can take a rest as often as you like. Even 5 minutes is great for you! The fresh air will do wonders for your mood as well.
Other options include knitting, needlework, painting, and scrapbooking. When you think of fitness, these might not come to mind. But the fact is that you’re moving your body, no matter how small the movements are, while engaging the brain. Open your mind to the possibilities!
Gentle, Low-Risk Exercise
Yoga, Pilates, Tai chi, and swimming are popular among seniors. They carry little risk of serious injury, and are easy to do in groups, with friends, or at home alone. They’re an excellent option for those who are new to exercise or have concerns about safety.
- Yoga includes breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, and is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
- Pilates is designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture. It also enhances mental awareness.
- Tai chi is actually a martial art, however it focuses on alleviating stress and anxiety through slow and carefully controlled movements. Tai chi is often practiced in an outdoor setting, and can be quite invigorating!
- Swimming is a low-impact exercise, with little risk of injury. It’s gentle on your joints while improving muscle tone.
Use a Buddy System
Choose a friend or family member to be your buddy and go on walks or other activities with you. It could be your neighbor, your best friend, or even your spouse. You hold each other accountable, and it’s easier to stay committed that way. They’ll provide you with companionship and encouragement. In turn, you’ll do the same for them.
Perhaps you can arrange to go on monthly hikes. If possible, it’s highly beneficial to find someone to walk with on a daily basis. Your buddy can even join you in your active hobbies, as discussed above. You can garden or knit together, for example, while enjoying each other’s company. You don’t need to do it alone!
Senior Group Fitness Classes
Group classes are like the buddy system, except on a larger scale! They bring a lot of fun and excitement to what might otherwise be considered tedious. You might be surprised at how many there are specifically for seniors!
These classes can be found in health clubs, local gyms, recreation departments, YMCAs, community wellness programs, and more. They can utilize anything from basic exercises using handheld weights, to yoga, to cardio. Silver Sneakers (https://www.silversneakers.com) is a popular program, and that’s provided at no cost! AARP and the ICAA have also teamed up to provide a service that’ll help you search for the right program: http://www.icaa.cc/facilitylocator/facilitylocator.asp
Whatever you choose, the point is to be proactive about your fitness level. Only you and your doctor can decide what type is right for you. However, at any stage in your life there are things you can do to stay healthy and active!