Looking for fresh, fun ways to get excited about exercising? Whether you’re a senior citizen yourself, or a caregiver for an older adult, you’ll love these 7 clever ideas chock-full of resources:
Making new friends later in life isn’t always so easy, but social interaction is crucial to maintaining strong brain health and fighting cognitive decline. Not only that, but friends make exercising and staying active more fun! Local senior centers or YMCAs offer loads of fitness classes which are a good way to exercise and meet new people, or sites like Meetup.com give seniors the opportunity to search out groups of people near them with similar interests who get together occasionally, i.e. senior hikers or swimmers.
Pain from arthritis, injury (like a fall), strained leg muscles, or other conditions prevents many seniors from seeking the physical activity that will most benefit them. Natural pain relief may come in many forms and help get you up and moving. Supportive wraps and braces like compression gloves for arthritis pain in the hand, a shoulder support brace for rotator cuff pain, or a groin support brace for leg pain can provide stability, support and compression to painful body parts. Other natural remedies including topical aids, massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, and ice and heat therapy may help as well. Consult your physician for an individualized treatment plan.
Friendly canines don’t just make great companions and watchdogs, but they can truly encourage seniors to get out of the house and exercise more. Dogs, like their owners, need at least 30 minutes of physical exercise every day. Brisk walks, playing fetch, hiking, and even swimming with your pet pooch benefits both of you and also makes staying fit more enjoyable. Don’t forget though – dogs (and their slippery water dishes and scattered chew toys) can make for serious trip hazards so older adults want to be extra mindful when they bring a pup into the home.
Few things feel better than doing something good for yourself and your community. Charity athletic events like fun runs, 5Ks, and walkathons offer seniors the chance to support a cause they care about and get a serious dose of exercise in. Follow your favorite local charities on social media or search Active.com to find an athletic charity event you can sign up for where proceeds from registrations go towards a good cause.
Nothing goes hand in hand with regular fitness like eating right. How can diet motivate you to exercise? When you ditch processed foods and extra sugar and instead opt for whole foods rich with nutrients your body needs to function, you’ll feel the difference. More toxins and waste will be eliminated from your system, and you’ll experience greater alertness, strength, and energy. Seniors should power healthy bones with calcium from foods like yogurt and low-fat milk, strong muscles with lean proteins and whole grains, keen brain function with Omega-3s from flaxseed oil, nuts and fatty fish, and healthy immune systems with the vitamins and minerals in fresh fruits and veggies.
Connecting physical movement with mindful meditation can be just the exercise boost you’re looking for. Mindfulness-cultivating practices like yoga and tai chi afford seniors heart-pumping exercise that also strengthens flexibility, bone density, and balance. Combined with deep breathing techniques and meditation, yoga and tai chi can also help you de-stress, and even lower high blood pressure. Find yoga classes online or at a studio near you with DoYogaWithMe.com and YogaFinder.com.
Giving back and helping others serves the specific role of allowing seniors to feel purposeful and useful. Lucky for you, lots of volunteer opportunities involve physical activity. Packing and moving boxes at the local food bank, tending to and walking pets at the local animal shelter, even volunteering to coach a little league team or serve as a summer camp counselor can get the heart rate up and the body moving. Volunteering was also shown in one 2014 study to lower a senior’s risk of high blood pressure. Find volunteer opportunities near you based on your own likes and interests with tools like CreatetheGood.org.
No matter how you find the time, energy, and motivation to exercise, it’s critically important for seniors to commit to at least 30 minutes a (week)day – routine fitness helps reduce risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s, lower blood pressure, prevent obesity and diabetes, build bone density, and so much more. So what are you waiting for?
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle. Through her writing she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.
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