We know it can be challenging to maintain regular exercise habits as you get older — and it’s even harder to start a new routine if you’ve been sedentary for a time. But Wednesday, May 28 is our 21st annual celebration of National Senior Health and Fitness Day, and it’s a great opportunity for seniors to get inspired, get active, and get fit.
There are a lot of reasons why seniors may shy away from exercising. Sometimes they fear falling and injury. Other times they’ve been slowed down by an illness. And many folks simply don’t know how to get started with an exercise program.
But believe it or not, these are exactly the reasons why you should start exercising! If you’re feeling too old, or frail, or tired to get active, think again. Regular exercise can benefit you in lots of different ways.
How exercise eases the effects of aging
As we age, we start to lose our sense of balance — that’s why so many seniors are vulnerable to falls. Just the simple act of standing on one foot can really improve your balance. Even better, make a conscious effort to walk from your heel to your toe to strengthen your muscles and get your balance back.
Gentle exercise also has a very positive effect on your overall mobility and coordination. It makes it easier to complete normal everyday tasks and prolongs the health of major joints like knees, elbows, and ankles. Better yet, it’s not only your muscles that get stronger — your immune system is strengthened by exercise too. So exercising will help keep you safe from pesky colds that so often turn into serious illness.
Finally, keeping physically fit will support your mental and emotional well-being. You’ll sleep better when you exercise. Exercise is known to be a defense against depression, too. It encourages your body to release endorphins, which in turn promote feelings of happiness.
Some simple ways to get started
Especially now, while the weather is lovely, get outside and walk! Walking is truly the perfect exercise — all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes.
Join an exercise class for seniors. You’ll meet new friends in a setting that provides activities customized for your age group. And it’s easy to stay motivated when you’ve got some company.
Try swimming or water aerobics. If you enjoyed swimming in the past, rediscover the fun. Water provides a gentle cushion that eases the stress on joints and muscles during a workout.
Experiment with yoga, tai chi or qi gong. All these systems are designed to increase strength, balance and flexibility. Many organizations offer free or low-cost classes for seniors, and often these classes use chairs for extra support.
Of course, we want you to stay safe! Always consult with your doctor before you begin any new exercise program. Remember to warm up those muscles before you start to push yourself. And be sure to drink lots of water, especially after you complete your routine.
Getting and staying fit does take a little effort. But you’ll be healthier and happier if you can stick with it. We hope you’ll join your friends at Heavenly Care and more than 100,000 seniors across the country in celebrating National Senior Health and Fitness Day!