As the decades pass, the fitness lifestyle grows more difficult to manage. Energy and strength levels tend to decrease and – perhaps more importantly – fitness marketing is mostly geared toward the young and fit, not those with gray in their hair. This is too bad, because exercise holds even more benefits for older age groups, staving off serious diseases and improving mobility in the silver years. Fortunately, the number of exercises and gym programs for older groups is on the rise. Here are some of the best exercises for maintaining (or starting) fitness in the later years.
1. Musical Fitness: A popular option for group fitness for the elderly is musical fitness. The details can vary greatly depending on type of activity, but usually this type of musical fitness is easier-going and slower than Zumba, more targeted toward elderly issues, is often provided in retirement homes and similar locations. Simple arm and leg movements are used to help increase flexibility and coordination, target areas for older age groups. Many of these exercises also include holding small weights to help maintain muscle strength at the same time.
2. Yoga: Yoga often gets a nod when it comes to silver-haired fitness, and for good reason. The simple, elegant movements of yoga are especially suitable for older age groups, and encourage group activities in simple, beautiful places. Yoga and related activities (Tai Chi, etc.) can help maintain flexibility. They can also be adapted to many different skill levels, depending on specific age groups and interests.
3. Aqua Sports: Aqua sports are another common fitness activity recommended for the elderly. Aqua Zumba and similar activities are frequently offered at community and gym pools. The primary draw here is the impact of water – or rather the lack of impact. When practicing in water, weight is taken off the knees and all joints have an extra layer of protection. This allows older participants to build strength and flexibility without endangering their joints, which may be in more fragile conditions than those of younger counterparts.
4. Heart Health Activities: As age increases, heart health becomes even more important to continued physical endurance and longevity. That makes cardio-related activities a vital part of silver fitness. The problem is that, as energy levels and mobility start to drop, many people give up on the idea of cardio entirely. This is a serious mistake: Plenty of cardio options exist for the elderly, from a brisk walk or jog to the classic step exercise, which encourages stepping on and off a platform to build up cardio health (and it requires much less room).
5. Leg Lifts: One of the injuries that grow more common as people age is the dreaded fall, often resulting from weakened muscles, a loss of balance, weaker bones and similar factors. The solution for most of these problems is strength training for legs and leg muscles. This can be accomplished via a number of leg-oriented exercises or weight machines that target the legs. Not only will this build leg strength, it will also build bone density, helping to prevent fractures.
6. Arm Lifts and Curls: Arms lifts and curls help improve arm strength, which is a bonus when it comes to lifting and move objects – something that starts to become difficult among the elderly who avoid fitness over long periods of time. Lighter weights are fine here – the goal is to build strength and endurance while avoiding losses, not necessarily to increase muscle size.
7. Basic Interval Activities: Certain interval activities can be very valuable for elderly-based fitness, especially those that mimic everyday activities like rising from a chair and walking forward. This helps improve key muscles and balance and lowering the likelihood of falls.
Angela Littlemore is a professional blogger that shares nutritional and fitness advice for those wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. She writes for Fitness 19, a leading fitness facility with affordable month to month memberships.