Exercise tips for seniors

October 9, 2015

Don't let weakness or age prevent you from starting an exercise program. Research shows a huge physiological — and psychological — benefit that even modest exercise provides for seniors who have long stopped exercising. If you have trouble standing, seek out exercises that can be done in a chair or wheelchair. Read on to learn more.

Exercise tips for seniors

Everyone needs exercise. There are no exceptions

Aerobic activity causes your muscles to burn energy and then draw glucose out of the blood to replace that energy, thus lowering your blood sugar. Strength training gives your body a larger muscle mass, so there are more cells drawing glucose out of your bloodstream at any one time. One isn't necessarily better than the other, and combining both into your regimen will give you the most benefits.

I'm over 60, what kind of exercises can I do?

  1. Bicycling is for people of all ages. And it has such great body benefits that even a few minutes a day can keep weight away. In 2010, a study of more than 18,000 women reported that those who pedalled as little as an average of five minutes a day gained little to no weight over a 16-year period, compared to 20 pounds gained by those who didn't ride. Just be sure to wear a helmet and appropriate shoes and socks, and watch for blisters or abrasions on your limbs.
  2. One exercise worth trying, particularly if you're 60 or older, is qigong (pronounced chee-guhn), an ancient Chinese martial art that combines steady, slow movements with breathing patterns. In one study, people diagnosed with depression who participated in qigong surpassed the control group in every measure after eight weeks.
  3. Another great way to get in some physical activity is gardening. It's great for your mind, soul and body. And a healthy dose of sunlight has been shown to boost mood, likely due to the sunshine stimulating your serotonin levels. Serotonin drops during darker, colder months — that's the main cause for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  4. You can also bounce on a trampoline! A few minutes on a mini-trampoline is a great way to get endorphins and oxygen flowing.

What about when I'm in pain?

  • Let doctors know if you feel any pain.
  • It's a good idea to try to temper the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers — especially aspirin, since it also carries the bonus of cardiovascular benefits.
  • If you're already taking small doses of aspirin daily, ask your doctor how to adjust the amount.
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