The benefits of regular exercise can’t be understated, especially for seniors living in assisted living or memory care.
Exercise in any form gives the opportunity to build muscle mass, keep fat off, and maintain flexibility in muscles and joints, making it an important part of a weekly routine. But there are some exercises that seniors should stay away from to avoid putting themselves at risk of harm.
Seniors should avoid high-impact exercises like running, heavy weightlifting, or excessive twisting, as these can lead to serious damage. Sticking with low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and gentle weightlifting is recommended to maintain physical health.
It can be beneficial to work with the teams on-site if you live in a senior living community so they can help give advice and support to encourage safe exercising.
The Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
Physical health plays an important role in seniors’ quality of life. It can improve many different aspects needed for daily life, like:
But the benefits don’t stop there—regular exercise can improve almost all parts of a senior’s physical health, from their heart to their blood pressure, making it an essential part of a weekly routine. It’s recommended that seniors perform at least:
- 150 minutes of low-to-moderate-intensity exercises a week
- At least 2 30-minute sessions of strength training
- At least 30 minutes of balance training a week
What Exercises Should Seniors Avoid?
Even though regular exercise can bring all kinds of benefits, this doesn’t mean it’s time to walk into the weight room and grab some dumbbells. It’s extremely common to lose muscle mass and flexibility with age, making it riskier to perform high-impact activities like:
- Heavy weightlifting
These activities can put a lot of stress on the body if performed incorrectly and require short bursts of movement or a great deal of repetition. This can put unnecessary strain on the body and seriously damage the muscles, joints, or worse.
Moderation is key when it comes to exercise. If you—or a senior loved one—live in an assisted living community, reaching out to the team around you can be beneficial if you want to change your exercise routine. They may be able to give you advice about safe exercises to perform.
It can also help to see if your community or local fitness facilities offer exercise programs and services, as there’s often a trained professional staff around to help recommend safe exercises.
What Exercises Work for Seniors?
Just because there’s a list of exercises to avoid doesn’t mean all exercise is bad—there are quite a few exercises that are safe if performed correctly. Typically, these are classified as low or moderately-intensive exercises. They can include:
- Walking or gentle jogging: this is a low-impact activity that can be worked into almost every daily routine and can benefit the joints and leg muscles significantly. It also gives the opportunity to see the community around you.
- Swimming or water aerobics: these are gentle on the joints but still provide some level of resistance that can help strengthen muscles. This can also benefit cardiovascular health.
- Light strength training: Working small levels of resistance into an exercise routine can help maintain muscle strength and bone density, and can be done with light weights, resistance bands, or weight machines.
It can be beneficial to work on balance and flexibility exercises as these can help improve some daily aspects of a senior’s life. This can be performed in a wide range of safe activities, like:
- Chair yoga
- Heel-toe walking
- One-legged balancing
- Tai Chi
This, along with gentle stretching in a chair or standing, can help keep muscles and joints loose and flexible, making daily movements much easier.
Fitness Programs & Assisted Living
The benefits of regular exercise for seniors can’t be understated. Taking part in the recommended levels of exercise (at least 150 minutes of low-to-moderately-intensive exercises a week) can help seniors maintain their physical health and quality of life.
It’s important to discuss any changes to your exercise routine with your support system and your doctor so you can determine what exercises are safe for you. Working with them can help you know you won’t be putting yourself at risk of hurting yourself while exercising.