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3 Key Approaches to Physical Exercise for Seniors

01/11/2024 | Blog | Reading Time 4 Minutes

As we grow older, we begin to lose the strength and stamina of our youth. Still, we should do our best to remain active in our older years. There are many key benefits of exercise for older adults.  

As the saying goes, motion is lotion. Low-impact cardio, strength training, and range of motion exercises can all help the symptoms associated with arthritis. Regular physical activity can also help reduce or prevent a whole host of diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and high-blood pressure. Studies have even shown it can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Exercising just feels good. It reduces your overall stress and helps decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research suggests the mood-boosting benefits of exercise continue well into old age. There are three key approaches to fitness that can help you reap the benefits of exercise.

Aerobic Exercise 

Aerobic exercises provide cardiovascular conditioning. The term literally means “with oxygen” meaning that breathing controls the amount of oxygen that can make it to the muscles to help them burn fuel and move.  

Aerobic activity can help you live longer and healthier. In fact, many health experts agree that aerobic exercise is the most important part of any fitness routine. There are many benefits to aerobic exercise.  It is one of the best ways to burn fat and lose weight. Aerobic exercise also decreases your resting heart rate and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and heart disease. Some examples of aerobic exercise include swimming, walking, and cycling.

Resistance Training

Also known as strength training or weight training, resistance training is the use of resistance to muscle contraction in order to build strength, anaerobic endurance, and the size of muscles. Resistance training helps preserve and build muscle mass which can help you avoid slips, trips, and falls.  

Our bones lose density as we age. Strength training has been shown to reverse this loss and actually increase bone density. Stronger bones mean fewer fractures and aids in balance. This reduces the risk of falls and injuries, one of the leading causes of debilitating injury and death. Examples of resistance training are lifting weights, doing body weight exercises like pushups, or using resistance bands.  

Combined Exercise

Aerobic and resistance training can be combined to create a holistic training program. Examples would be to alternate the two types of exercise day by day. 

You could also do programs that incorporate both simultaneously. This approach gets the benefits of both types of training.

What makes a good exercise program?

A personalized workout regimen is most effective when tailored to individual needs. Begin by identifying your fitness objectives. Are you aiming for weight loss, increased strength, or enhanced endurance for longer walks? Establishing a clear goal is crucial for selecting the appropriate exercises for your journey. 

It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor before you start any exercise program. They can help you assess your current fitness level and suggest programs or exercise modifications to help you achieve your goals.  

Exercise is great for your overall health. Specifically for seniors, regular exercise is essential to maintaining cardiovascular health as well as strength and endurance. Well-rounded exercise routines can help prevent certain diseases and protect against slips, trips, and falls. It can even help improve cognitive function.   

It’s also good to keep in mind that working out can be a communal and enjoyable experience. Participating in group exercises, like joining fitness classes, walking groups, or recreational sports teams, introduces a social aspect that can enhance the enjoyment of physical activities.  

Exercising with a group also fosters accountability, increasing the likelihood of maintaining a consistent exercise schedule. It's important to remember that physical activity should be pleasurable, so select activities that you find enjoyable and rewarding. 

At Aldersly, we work hard to provide the best programs to enhance our residents’ quality of life.  We develop activities for our residents that help them lead healthy, full, and meaningful lives. Call us at (415) 432-7047 to schedule a visit.