In most cases, elderly individuals can enjoy the benefits of some type of regular exercise. A few seniors, however, will be too frail for certain types of exercise. For others, special precautions need to be made to eliminate the risk of falls.
For the elderly, the benefits of exercise include lower incidence of depression, reduced chance of dying prematurely, increased alertness, improvements in blood pressure and other cardiovascular benefits, and reduced risk of diabetes. Seniors who exercise regularly typically remain independent for a longer period of time.
It is not necessary for the senior to spend huge amounts of time in strenuous exercise. Those individuals who exercised regularly for as little as 30 minutes per week still experienced significant benefits. This was true even if the exercise required only moderate amounts of effort.
There is no single exercise program that will work for all elderly individuals because each individual has different needs and problems. What works and is safe for one senior may not work or be safe for another.
It is important to consult with a physician before beginning ALL new exercise programs. This is true for all ages, but it is particularly true for the elderly who may be limited in what they can do by specific medical conditions.
An elderly person who gets the okay from her physician may enjoy the same exercise activities as younger individuals. In addition, here are five exercises that the elderly may enjoy:
- Walking. If the senior is still able to walk independently and is steady on her feet, regularly walking a short distance provides excellent cardiovascular benefits and can be a wonderful source of exercise.
- Water aerobics. Even those seniors who have limited mobility can participate in and enjoy water aerobics. The water cushions the impact and makes mobility easier.
- Stretching. These low-impact activities can even be done in a wheelchair. Seniors who stretch several times a week will find that they retain their flexibility better than those who do not stretch on a regular basis.
- Strength training. The use of weight machines or free weights strengthens muscles all over the body. Special equipment is not even needed. A senior can benefit from lifting household items such as books, cans, or other moderately heavy items.
- Balance exercises. As seniors age, loss of balance can become a serious problem. Strengthening leg muscles can improve balance and stability.