Staying active is important no matter the age. But for seniors, exercising has become less of a priority. In the U.S., only 28-34% of seniors between ages 65-74 are physically active, and only 35-44% for ages 75 years or older.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected people’s physical activity. People had to stay at home to be safe from the virus. And seniors are part of the vulnerable population. Thus, the pandemic has made seniors less active than they already were before the pandemic. Unfortunately, physical inactivity poses health risks.
Thus, despite the current situation, seniors still need to get enough physical exercise. Seniors need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. And they need to exercise as many times as possible within a week. If their physical stamina permits, they should strive to exercise five times a week. Here are some things they can do:
The easiest activity that seniors can do to stay active is to walk around the neighborhood. They can do brisk-walking for at least 10 minutes. They must keep their masks on at all times while outside. But if wearing a mask tires them out in the middle of the exercise, they can remove it for a short while in a spot without anyone around. Seniors who receive hospice care at home will need to consult with their doctors first. They need to clarify if they’re allowed to do brisk walking every day and consider other factors.
Walking, even just leisurely, has many benefits. It can help seniors improve their blood circulation and manage their weight. Some studies also found that walking regularly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may slow down brain degeneration.
Seniors can also try gardening. Whether they live in their own residence or stay at an independent or assisted living facility, this is an activity that will keep them both occupied and healthy. For example, they can report plants, water them, trim some bushes, or even do some weeding.
Gardening has many benefits for the elderly. First, it’s a great way to exercise without feeling like they’re exercising. For instance, the general activity of tending on plants for 30 minutes can help a person burn 135 to 200 calories, depending on their weight. Gardening among the elderly was also found to reduce the risk of illnesses and mortality rates. Lastly, just being exposed to nature for a long time can help boost their mood.
One physical activity that seniors can do without going outside is yoga. Just like walking, yoga can help improve seniors’ blood circulation. And doing yoga regularly can help seniors improve their balance and flexibility. Thus, this activity will improve their mobility and give them more autonomy. Yoga is also widely known to have mental benefits. For example, it can improve one’s mood. Yoga includes deep breathing exercises, which can improve lung capacity and help seniors get better sleep.
Seniors can try following yoga routines by watching online tutorials on YouTube. If they’re coming from a period of inactivity, seniors need to start with simple yoga routines. For example, they can first focus on posture alignment exercises. They’re slow-paced and will help seniors’ bodies get used to the activity. Deep breathing exercises are also ideal.
Tai chi is a full-body exercise that originated in Ancient China. It is a type of martial arts that involves slow, controlled movements and breathing exercises. It’s actually quite popular among the elderly.
Tai chi is quite similar to yoga in terms of benefits. Both activities improve breathing and flexibility. Tai chi can also improve balance, like yoga. One study found that regular tai chi practice canreduce fall risk by 50%. And like any other form of physical activity, tai chi can also improve one’s mood, lowering the risk of anxiety and depression.
Dancing is a great way for seniors to be physically active without feeling the pressure of exercising. And it can also be done indoors, keeping seniors safe. Dancing regularly is a good way for seniors to reduce joint pains and stiffness. It can also improve their balance and mobility, just like walking.
This activity is much more fun to do with a group of people. Thus, family members should join their aging relatives in dancing. They not only get to bond as a family; they all rip the benefits of dancing, too!
As the ancient adage says, health is wealth. Seniors need to have good health and be in their best shape, especially in the middle of a global pandemic.