As a senior, an active lifestyle is important to reduce your risk from health issues. That active lifestyle should include four types of low-impact exercises: strength, balance, stretching, and endurance.
Regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. The benefits you are looking to gain relate more to age-related issues. Consider the following:
- Strength exercises help you build muscle and increase your metabolism. When you age your main benefits from strength exercises are maintaining your weight, preventing loss of bone mass, and keeping your blood sugar in check. Lifting weights or using a resistance band can build strength, but take safety precautions and talk to your doctor about what weight ranges are appropriate.
- Balance exercises help to improve your functional movements and combine vision, hearing, and spatial orientation to create stability. Seniors particularly benefit from balance exercises that improve their leg muscles for the prevention of slips and falls. These exercises are essential if you want to avoid disability from falling. Tai Chi and Qi Gong focus on movement that increase balance and strength. Balance exercises can be very challenging and should not be done alone.
- Stretching exercises give you more freedom with movement so that you can continue to be active with age. Stretching helps to loosen muscles and joints, reducing pain and inflammation. This is particularly helpful if you suffer from osteoarthritis. Yoga takes you through a series of poses while concentrating on breathing and flexibility. Qi Gong is also good for stretching. Make sure you’re doing stretches properly to avoid injury, go slowly, and never push yourself to the point of causing pain.
- Endurance, or aerobic, exercises are any activities that increase your heart rate and breathing. Walking is a great endurance exercise that is easy to start because it requires no equipment other than a comfortable pair of shoes and it can be done anywhere. Other examples of endurance exercises that are good for seniors are jogging, swimming, and bicycling.
While adding these four types of low-impact exercises into your routine are important, the level of impact and amount you do as a senior should be quite different compared to when you were at your prime. Your approach should be adjusted if you have a preexisting condition, an injury, major health risk, or disability.
Safety should always be a concern. Before starting to exercise, talk to your doctor and get medical clearance.