Benefits of Aerobics for Seniors
The effects of aging on your body are apparent when leading a sedentary lifestyle. Aerobics for seniors can reverse and slow many of the negative effects of aging on your body such as:
- Loss of bone mass
- Poor balance
- Poor endurance
- Loss of cognitive function
Aerobics for seniors, combined with resistance training, can slow and reverse these adverse conditions you may be experiencing.
Sarcopenia, or the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, can be insidious if you let it. It’s a condition that is correlated to poor quality of life, physical disability and death.
Fortunately, exercise such as aerobics and strength training can slow the progression of sarcopenia, as well as mitigate your risk factors by increasing your skeletal muscle mass.
Aerobics for seniors can increase bone mass if it’s weight bearing exercise.
Weight bearing exercise that involves land-based activity, in which you’re supporting your weight, should be part of your plan to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
With age, balance tends to deteriorate, unless you’re doing exercise that requires balance. By improving balance, you’ll reduce your risk of falling and fracturing a hip or other bone.
If you’re not doing anything to improve or maintain your endurance, it’s likely that your activities of daily living will get more difficult. This is where aerobics for seniors can help.
Exercise, especially strength training, can improve cognitive function that plagues so many seniors.
The Best Aerobics for Seniors
- Dance Cardio
One of the best forms of aerobic exercise for seniors, dance cardio can improve bone mass, endurance and balance, things you need for improved quality of life, not just longevity.
Make sure the instructor is certified to teach dance cardio and has experience working with seniors.
- Water Aerobics
While it’s not weight bearing exercise, water aerobics can improve your strength as well as muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
Whichever place you choose to do water aerobics, as always make sure the instructor is certified and the facility has proper water safety equipment.
Having someone to walk with will make it more interesting and improve your exercise adherence.
Your pace should be brisk and be done in an area that’s safe, as well as being free of extreme temperatures.
Be sure to stay hydrated and wear comfortable athletic shoes.
- Chair Fit
A great chair fit workout combines strengthening, aerobic exercise and flexibility. And you don’t need expensive equipment.
Make sure you have a firm chair without armrests and a towel and water nearby.
Doing chair fit exercise in a group will make your exercise more enjoyable and make it more likely you’ll continue for the long term.
How much should you exercise?
If you’re 65 years of age or older and have no underlying health problems:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- 2 days per week of muscle strengthening activity
The following are examples of moderate intensity exercise:
- Water aerobics
- Doubles tennis
- Brisk walking
Strengthening Exercise to Consider
Strength training should be done at least two times per week and target all the major muscle groups; about 10 exercises. Beginners can start with sets of 6 to 12 repetitions, 2 sets.
Allow 48 to 96 hours of rest between workouts. Strengthening can be done with dumbbells, bands, machines or body weight against gravity.
If you need help, work with a certified trainer who has experience working with seniors.
Yoga can be used to work on strength, flexibility and balance. If you like the idea of yoga, but you’re looking for an alternative that’s a little less difficult and more accessible, chair yoga may be the answer.
With any exercise, if you’re experiencing pain, you should stop performing the exercise.
Pilates is great for core strengthening and conditioning. You can start out doing Pilates with just a mat.
If you decide to get ambitious, you can progress to using specialized equipment.
The Pilates studio should provide mats and any other equipment that you need.
Any exercise should start with a warm-up and end with a cool down, including stretching after your workout.
If you have underlying health problems or have not had a physical exam recently, consult your physician before starting an exercise program.
Want to avoid the nursing home? Exercise regularly.
You don’t have to suffer from many of the debilitating diseases associated with aging.
A little exercise goes a long way. Just three times a week can make a big difference.
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