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The Fit Senior

The benefits of exercise are many.  Physical activity might result in a better sense of balance, enhanced flexibility, firmer muscle tone, improved range of motion, lower blood pressure, increased well-being, better memory recollection, steadier sleep patterns, and the list goes on.  Of course, individuals should always follow safety guidelines, and exercise programs should not be undertaken without the consent of a physician.  Once you are medically cleared, though, the rewards can be great!

So where should you begin?  The thoughts below outline a few ideas.

Walk.  The only gear you will need to begin this type of exercise is comfortable sneakers.  After that, the rest is simple.  Walking can take place in different locations: at the mall, on a track, by a trail, inside a gym, on a treadmill, along the beach, etc.  When beginning a walking program, start slowly and then build to a brisker stride as you go along (maybe for 20 to 30 minutes).  The final 7 to 10 minutes should be spent cooling down at a slower pace.

Fitness Class.  Senior fitness classes are offered at workout clubs, colleges, YMCA/YWCA, schools, and the like.  If you are unfamiliar with structured routines, it is best to enter a beginner class and work up to more challenging programs as you gain endurance and strength.  Fitness classes might consist of a cardio workouts (e.g., aerobics, swimming), strength training (weights, resistance bands), stretching (Pilates, yoga), or perhaps a combination of all three.

Tai Chi.  Tai Chi concentrates on movement in a released instead of tensioned fashion and is a martial arts technique developed from Chinese principles.  Slow, repetitive motions work to aid circulation and benefit both the body and mind by enhancing balance, increasing clarity, and building strength.

Most experts agree that exercise helps us live healthier lives.  On some days, however, we might not have 30 to 50 minutes to devote to working out.  Still, you still can capitalize on your time.  For example, if you have light weights hanging around the house, maybe flex your arms for a few minutes while you are watching TV (you will build strength!).  If you are in the kitchen cooking, perhaps incorporate a couple of safety-approved stretching exercises after gathering your ingredients; they may help with flexibility.

Exercise reaps multiple physical and emotional rewards at any age.  Whether engaging in walking, biking, swimming, dancing, stretching, etc., different movements help keep the mind and body vital; and seniors especially benefit from these activities!

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