<!–[CDATA[Fit for Life: Exercise for Seniors
Not everyone enjoys exercise but studies show that seniors who keep physically fit are able to live independently longer. Aside from the sheer health benefits, people who exercise have better balance, and so avoid potentially serious injuries from falling. Furthermore, when you exercise you have more energy so you can do more of the things you enjoy doing, such as spending time with your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – who want you around for a long time.
The fact is, it’s not hard for most seniors to get some beneficial physical activity into their day; furthermore, it can even be fun and a good way to socialize. You don’t need to work out in a gym, you can go for brisk walks, ride a bike, swim, dance, and take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators. Not only can you delay disease and other aging problems with exercise, you can also feel better emotionally, as exercise releases endorphins that make you feel exhilarated and happy.
Four Ways to be Active
The National Institute on Aging recommends that seniors incorporate all four types of exercise into their daily physical activity regimen: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Endurance. Try to build up to at least 30 minutes of activity that leaves you breathing hard. You can do it in 10-minute increments, you can do it 3-5 times a week. Start low and slow and increase duration and energy level as you get more fit.
- Strength. Everything you do requires muscles: getting up from a chair, lifting a grandchild, carrying groceries are all things you’d like to be able to do without needing assistance. Keeping your muscles in shape keeps you independent.
- Balance. Falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths among seniors. Practicing standing on one foot and walking heel to toe can help you improve your balance.
- Flexibility. Stretching is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Stretch your arms, legs, neck, and back. You’ll find it easier to tie your shoes, look over your shoulder when backing out of the driveway, and reach for things whether they’re on a high shelf or the ground.
Fitness at Five Star
All Five Star Senior Living communities offer a comprehensive fitness program covering all four areas described above, including Five Point Fitness programs, which are tailored to each resident’s personal fitness level and offered in a group or one-on-one setting with a specially trained staff member, and fitness and wellness rooms where you can work out on your own. Just remember to start slowly, especially if you haven’t been particularly active for a long time. Never hold your breath while doing strength exercises and be sure to use safety equipment when needed (such as helmets for bike riding). Stay hydrated and try to commit to working out a few days a week for least 30 minutes.