The benefits of regular exercise far outweigh the excuses for not adding it to your life.
Older adults should start slowly. Try starting with five minutes of exercise a day, and gradually increase the time to 30 minutes a day. It’s also important to add strengthening exercises twice a week to reduce muscle and bone loss and increase your flexibility and strength.
Exercising in the water puts less stress on joints and allows people with arthritis a reprieve from pain. With many types of water exercise, you don’t even need to know how to swim to take part in them. Here are some basic exercises most seniors can do and enjoy.
Relaxation is an important part of well-rounded health. Practicing relaxation techniques in a pool of warm water can help to loosen tight muscles and ease joint pain, whether from aging, chronic illness or injury. It may also help to reduce your blood pressure, reduce your heart rate and reduce the amount of stress hormone your body produces while boosting your energy and your immune system.
Most of us are familiar with aerobic exercises, also called endurance exercises. These include activities like walking, dancing, ect. This type of exercise increases our heart rates and offers substantial heart and lung health benefits in addition to weight loss or weight management. Aerobic exercise also helps to improve our moods.
What you might not be familiar with is the idea of doing aerobic exercise while immersed in water. Some are tailored toward one specific type of exercise such as water dancing, walking or running, while others combine various aerobic activities; everything from jumping jacks to dancing. A typical exercise session should last about an hour, including time to warm-up and cool-down, during which you’ll be immersed in water that’s roughly chest-deep.
Consider the benefits of strength training, also called resistance training. Forty-five percent of women age 65 and older can’t lift 10 pounds. And that jumps to 65 percent of women who are 75 or older. Practicing strength training at least two days every week can help to reduce your risk of straining to pick up a jug of milk, for example. It’s a slow form of exercise that forces your muscles to work against resistance, in turn making those muscles stronger.
Traditional, out-of-water strength training may use free weights, an elastic resistance band or a cable machine. When practiced in water, though, there are added benefits. While the resistance could still be from weights, bands or other equipment, the water itself also provides resistance when you move. Additionally, the added buoyancy helps reduce the stress that exercise can place on joints, knees and hips, reducing chronic pain and increasing your range of motion.
A classic type of good-for-you, heart-rate-raising exercise is swimming. No matter your experience level or how many strokes you may or may not know, understand this: Swimming is one of the best overall workouts you can do. It affects your whole body. It benefits your heart, your lung function, your flexibility, your muscle tone and strength — it’s also low-impact and burns as many as 500 to 650 calories in an hour.
If you don’t already know how to swim, or you’re just feeling out of practice, check out your local gym, fitness center or YMCA to learn the strokes or brush up on your technique before diving in.