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Physical Exercise for Seniors

Senior Health Requires Adequate Physical Exercise

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Physical exercise has long been known to play an important role in senior health and quality of life.  That said, what this actually means is quite specific to the individual, and it’s important to keep up activity at an appropriate level.

What Should Physical Exercise Look Like for Seniors?

Physical exercise for seniors can include anything from chair yoga to running a full marathon. It all depends on your fitness level and how well it has been built up and maintained. 

The majority of seniors require physical exercise not only to maintain overall fitness, but also to maintain muscle mass, avoid injury, and keep up cardiovascular wellness. For anyone just getting started, the key is to start slowly.

Getting Started for the First Time

Seniors should always start slowly when getting into physical exercise for the first time – or at least the first time in a while.  Resistance training and weights should be skipped for at least the first week, if not more.  During the first few weeks, taking frequent breaks and having a chair nearby for sitting or for balance can be helpful. A cardio workout can still be accomplished from seated.

If in recovery from a medical event, surgery, or injury, it’s always important to speak with a medical provider before starting any kind of new activity. That said, when adopting the new routine, a slow start is best, and you should always listen to your body, doing only what it will allow without pushing further.

Preventing Falls Through Physical Exercise

Among the most important goals and benefits of physical exercise for seniors is that practicing it regularly can improve flexibility, core strength and balance. Not only are these all central goals for overall health and quality of life, but they also help to reduce the risk of falls.

That said, it’s important to remember that the activities themselves shouldn’t put you at risk of falling. This is another reason that it’s important to start slowly and build up your fitness level gradually so that you can feel confident in every step you take.

Where to Begin

Knowing that you want to start focusing on physical fitness and actually knowing where to start are two separate things.  Fortunately, there are lots of options available to you.  They depend on your mobility, current fitness level and what you enjoy doing. 

You might find that starting with a short walk close to your home is all you need to get started. Walking is one of the best exercises anyone can do for their health. That said, you might also enjoy water-based workouts if you have access to a pool.  Many gyms and community centers offer fitness classes specifically for certain age groups, which can also bring a social component to your workouts, making it more enjoyable overall.