When it comes to senior wellness, the effect of exercise on physical and mental health cannot be overstated. Staying active is an essential part of healthy aging. However, certain ailments like arthritis can make exercise seem like a chore. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-impact exercises that can be done at the gym or in a class that can ease the symptoms of arthritis, help you maintain a healthy body weight, increase circulation and flexibility, and improve overall health.
The CDC recommends that seniors get an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise every week to stay healthy. Taking a 30 minute walk five times a week can be a great start toward a regular exercise routine. Walking is one of the most beneficial ways to build endurance, and its gentle impact on joints means that it can be practiced later in life. If you're new to walking, start slowly and gradually increase the length of time and distance. Finding a comfortable pair of shoes is very important to ensure that your feet have proper support. If you don't want to exercise alone, find a friend or family member to take a walk with you a few times each week. Walking can be done outdoors or on a treadmill at a moderate pace.
Whether outdoors or at a stationary bike, cycling is a great endurance exercise that is easy on joints and knees. There are several different types of models of bicycles, making it simple to use one with more back support if needed. The benefits of cycling include improved blood flow, relieved arthritis pain and a boosted mood. This aerobic exercise can also help strengthen leg muscles. If you don't own a bike but want to get the benefits of cycling, find a spin or cycling class designed for seniors to help you get started.
Aerobic exercise in water is excellent for those with stiff joints. Water allows you to feel weightless, taking most of the pressure off the body while still giving you resistance. Swimming also carries a lower risk of injury compared to other types of exercises for seniors. Swimming laps can simultaneously be a cardio exercise that improves lung function as well as a way to stretch your arms, shoulders, back and legs. Water aerobics are popular among seniors who enjoy working out with others, and the different movements and swim strokes keep the exercise from getting boring. Check out your local swimming pool to see if they offer a senior water aerobics class.
If you're new to exercise machines, an elliptical trainer is an easy one to start with. Many have an extra component for arms that allow you to burn more calories compared to one with just the leg component. A 30 minute workout on an elliptical machine with a low resistance can be a good aerobic workout that is low-impact, as your feet glide on swinging platforms. An elliptical trainer can also help burn more calories and help with weight loss.
For seniors who are worried about straining themselves during physical activity, rowing machines can be a low-impact way to improve physical fitness without placing stress on the back or joints. A short workout on a rowing machine can burn calories rapidly, making it a great exercise for weight management and improving aerobic ability. Tension on the machine can be low or increased to higher levels for more vigorous exercise. Regular use can also help tone muscles in the upper body, core and lower body, as a rowing machine has a full range of motion.