When it comes to the best fitness options for those 50 and older, there are so many exercise choices available—options that are vital for increasing mobility and flexibility, maintaining balance, and improving muscle strength and endurance.
You’re probably realizing that your workout needs are changing as the years go by. Instead of solely thinking about building muscle or dropping weight, you’re probably also thinking about strengthening your body in ways that prevent future injuries.
We’re profiling the top exercises for seniors, to help you get a balanced amount of the types of exercises that will benefit you the most.
What are the best exercises for seniors?
Yoga has been around for more than a millennia—and for good reason. In addition to keeping our bodies flexible and limber, yoga is also extremely beneficial for the mind. And who couldn't use a little less stress?
Yoga is one of our top exercise recommendations for seniors because it combines all four types of exercises you need. We know - that’s hard to imagine. You think of yoga as people standing on their heads and shaping their body into pretzels. But for most classes, the goal of the class is to increase your focus, balance, and light flexibility. Even if you’re not very flexible, most moves come with an alternative way, so you can gradually transition your body into the new exercise, just like you would gradually add more weight when you weight train.
As this Huffington Post article notes, "Yoga helps adults maintain a fitter body, calmer mind and feel more relaxed. Recent studies have shown that yoga can normalize your blood pressure and even balance your nervous system all while using breathing techniques to cleanse your air passages; this cleansing also helps mature adults prevent respiratory ailments."
Yes, seriously! Weight training is a healthy (and important!) thing to do at any age.
Picking stuff up, carrying it around, and putting it down—it's something we've been doing since we were old enough to walk, and it's something we need to keep doing, with slight moderation as we get older. The big thing: lifting super heavy should no longer be your goal.
Instead, consider this advice from Next Avenue: "For the greatest strength benefits within a safe range, aim for a weight where you can get 10 reps, where the last couple reps are challenging."
Lifting weights will help you build muscle, and keep your body strong in general. Aim for twice a week for each muscle group to keep your strength balanced throughout your body.
You’ll want to follow a few precautions - don’t work the same muscle group two days in a row, and stop if you feel any pain (or try a lower weight). As always, if you feel unsure about a specific weight limit, ask a trainer for advice on what your body can handle!
Other strength training exercises:
- Resistance bands
- Exercise equipment at the gym
- Modified squats and lunges
We loved it when we were kids, so why not embrace your inner child and reconnect with the waves?
Swimming is an exercise that’s low impact on your joints (and entire body) while toning your muscles and increasing your flexibility. It’s also an aerobic exercise which helps your heart and blood flow. Like yoga, swimming also helps to relieve stress and improve your mood.
But a quality swimming has all to itself, is that it’s been noted to help prevent osteoporosis and aid bone density - especially when combined with some weight training.
Plus, you have even more options than simply doing laps: water aerobics is so much fun that you'll swear it's not even exercise.
You may not be able to easily guess this, but cycling is an exercise that’s easy on the joints. It’s also recommended to lower the risk of heart attacks, lower high blood pressure, and help your overall mood.
If you want to support your back more or are having any neck and shoulder pain, consider using a stationary recumbent bicycle. These cycles are often a hit because you sit normally, with your back supported, and the pedals and handlebars are in front of you.
It seems like more and more states are investing in bike trails as another way to conserve land. So, strap on your helmet and get ready to take in some beautiful scenery and fresh air. Check out Trail Link for bike trails in your area.
A common ailment among people of all ages is back problems. Well, guess what can help? A strong core. And nothing focuses on your core like Pilates.
Pilates is the art of using controlled movements that condition the body by creating long lean muscles without the bulk. Strengthen, lengthen, and tone all core and stabilization areas while increasing flexibility, range of motion, and perfecting posture. Best of all, pilates is an adaptable exercise which can be adjusted to accommodate people of all fitness levels.
See what classes are happening near you tonight by clicking here. Or, bring a friend and get started today with a FREE PASS: