As you get older, no matter what type of Medicare plan you have, it’s important to exercise regularly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercising on a daily basis will bring such health benefits as helping you feel strong and energetic while improving your mental acuteness. Exercise also reduces your risk of injury.
Exercise will work wonders for your body and sharpen your mind. You receive the best results when you increase your activity. This includes anything that gets you moving, such as walking, dancing, or working in the yard. Regular physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for seniors as they’re at risk for health problems like diabetes.
This doesn’t mean you need to do a triathlon or or squat 500lbs. Your main objective should be staying active and doing things you enjoy, from gardening to playing basketball or jogging with friends. You can take a light 10-minute walk after each meal. Or you could try doing 15 minutes of aerobics in the morning and another 15 minutes in the evening.
See your doctor before you begin an exercise program. Your doctor can tell you about the kinds of exercise that are good for you, depending on your health and any complications you may have.
Here are 5 effective exercises for seniors.
- Yoga —Yoga incorporates fluid movements that build flexibility, strength and balance. Yoga is helpful for people with a variety of chronic conditions, and can help lower blood pressure and your heart rate. It lowers stress and improves nerve function, which leads to an increased state of mental health and wellness. “Yoga has a powerful effect on stress and hypertension and can help seniors reduce the amount of medication they need,” says Amy Wheeler, yoga professor at California State University at San Bernardino.
- Walking — Walking is a simple and popular exercise and always recommended to seniors. One of the best ways to increase physical activity is 30 to 45 minutes of walking, three times a week. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at long-term studies of runners and walkers, and they found a surprise: If you cover the same distance, the heart health benefits were about the same. Both walking and running led to similar reductions in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even coronary heart disease.
- Dancing —Dancing is not only great for your body. The mental work to remember dance steps and sequences actually boosts brain power and improves memory. Dancing is a fun and exciting way to increase physical activity, promote weight loss, improve flexibility, lower blood sugar and reduce stress. Chair dancing, which incorporates the use of a chair to support people with limited physical abilities, makes dancing an option for many people. In just 30 minutes, a 150-pound adult can burn up to 150 calories. In a study conducted by researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, it found that seniors who regularly participated in ballroom dancing reported improved balance and were less likely to fall. According to Reuters, researchers noted that seniors who participated in this form of dance improved their balance by 50 percent. Eliane Gomes da Silva Borges, the lead author of the study, said ballroom moves allow seniors to spin and balance in ways that effectively boost brain and body strength.
- Tai Chi —This Chinese form of exercise uses slow, smooth body movements that relax the body and mind. According to health.clevelandclinic.org, in 2009, researchers at the University of Florida studied 62 Korean women assigned to one of two groups—a control group and an exercise group that began a regular practice of Tai Chi. Those who completed the tai chi sessions showed significant improvement in blood sugar control. They also reported increased vitality, energy and mental health. The benefits of Tai Chi for seniors include relieving stress, improvement in lower body and leg strength, relieving arthritis pain, reduces blood pressure, and it improves conditions of Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.
- Swimming — Swimming stretches and relaxes your muscles and doesn’t put pressure on your joints, which is great for seniors. For seniors who are at risk for developing diabetes, studies show it improves cholesterol levels, burns calories and lowers stress levels. To get the most benefit from swimming, we recommend that you swim at least three times a week for at least ten minutes and gradually increase the length of the workout. Swimming is an ideal workout for the aging because it’s low impact and presents a minimal risk of injury. Swimming is also a complete workout, incorporating the entire body and utilizing all muscles groups. Along with the many physical health benefits to swimming, there are also the mental and psychological benefits that make this an attractive workout for seniors. Studies show that swimming and other exercises can relieve stress and improve mood levels. Furthermore, swimming in public pools or with friends and family creates situations for older adults to be social and avoid feelings of isolation or loneliness.
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