Remember being a Senior in high school? Do you recall how that felt….freedom, independence, ability to make your own decisions and have the final say in your life? It seemed like that was the start of really “living” a new journey, a new life.
As I sit here writing this, I’m approaching my 20th high school reunion next month. Wow, that seems unreal! Has twenty years already passed that quickly? Yes, it sure has. When I mentioned that to my group of Silver Sneakers (a fitness class for Senior Citizens 60-100) they laughed and said, "Oh, just wait until your 50th reunion, then you’ll feel really old."
Two to three times each week, these lovely people (who have way more knowledge and life experience than me) meet me at our local YMCA for their Silver Sneakers class. They do a combo of low-impact cardio, light weights using dumb-bells, resistance bands, foam rollers, and stretching. They inspire me every week by their dedication, motivation, and positive outlook to push through in the face of adversity. Whether they walk in feeling tired or in pain, they are still putting forth their best effort for that one hour. They refuse to allow age to be an excuse for slowing down or becoming sedentary.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine's annual "Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends," Senior Fitness came in as No.8 on the most popular list. Fitness Programs for Older Adults are in high demand to help this population cope with health problems, weight gain, pain issues or prevent them from falling and possibly sustaining a serious injury. Low-impact movement to gradually bring their heart-rate into a safe zone (120-140 bpm) can help to boost energy, maintain independence and manage symptoms of illness and protect their heart. Not to mention regular exercise is also good for combatting Alzheimer’s dementia, diabetes, hypertension & obesity and is the number one contributor to longevity.
Below, I have listed some ideas to help the Senior population get moving and enjoy exercise even more:
- Listen to music or an audiobook while walking or lifting weights
- Window shop while walking laps at the mall
- Playing Tennis
- Taking photographs on a Nature Hike
- Meet new people at a fitness class for fun and stress relief
- Walk the golf course instead of using a cart
- Walk or play fetch with a dog or volunteer at a pet shelter or rescue group
- Find an exercise buddy to accompany you and try new activities
- Try yoga or Tai Chi to help with posture and gain confidence and balance
- Water Aerobics
Getting active is one of the best decisions you can make as you age. Always get medical clearance from your doctor before starting a new program, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Start slow and build up steadily. Try spacing your workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. Warm-up, cool down and keep water handy. Remember, exercise can add years to your life and life to your years!