Get Moving – Many Activities Will Benefit Seniors – But Do It Safely

Another post on the benefits of seniors being active? Yes, here we go again!

The importance of seniors becoming and staying active can’t be overstated.

We talk about the importance of getting moving all the time. We all know we need to get up and start moving more to improve our health.

There are numerous health benefits for us and our aging loved ones. Activity is actually one of the healthiest habits you should develop!

Moderate physical activity can help improve chronic diseases and the effects of aging. Moving more will help keep joints moving, muscles strong, balance straight, minds sharp, manage chronic diseases like high blood pressure and obesity, lead to social engagement, provide enjoyment, make it easier to perform everyday activities, relieve boredom and — just maybe — reduce the number of doctor visits needed.

Staying physically active can delay or even prevent disease and disability for seniors.

Activities Many Seniors Can Do

Physical activity should get your body moving, no matter which activity you choose. It doesn’t have to take place in a gym, spa or any other formal location.

Here are some of our favorite activities:

  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Weight training
  • Dancing
  • Playing with Grandkids
  • Playing a sport of your choice, such as golf, tennis, bocce ball, shuffleboard, badminton, bowling
  • Household chores
  • Video “exergames” like Wii bowling, golf or tennis
  • Chair-based sitting exercises
  • Fishing or hiking

If your senior has favorite activities that get them active, focusing on those will make it more enjoyable for them and more likely they will put the time and effort into doing them.

Safety Tips

Physical activities are intended to improve health and well-being so it’s essential to keep safety tips in mind.

  • Be sure your senior is doing activities that are safe for them. You may want to clear activity with your senior’s doctor in case certain precautions should be followed such as medication changes.
  • Remind them to stretch their muscles and warm up before doing activities.
  • Be sure they are dressed appropriately with properly fitting shoes and clothes that allow movement without creating a trip hazard.
  • Check out where they are walking to be sure the surface is stable, free from holes or cracks that could cause a fall, and be sure the area is well lit.
  • Also remind them to take plenty of fluids before and after activity to remain well hydrated especially in hot, humid climates.
  • Let them know not to overdo any activity-they should not be breathing so hard that they can’t talk or get dizzy. Begin slowly but keep gradually building up time and pace to stay physically challenged. Stop physical activity if pain, dizziness, cramps or stomach upset occur and check with the doctor.
  • Get a buddy who can share the fun and help if needed.

Not Too Late – or Too Old – to Become Active

It’s not too late to start moving. Encourage your senior to participate in some physical activity every day for at least 30 minutes, being sure to get the heart rate engaged.

It doesn’t have to cost money. There are many videos on YouTube or in your library. Canned foods can be used for resistance training. Walk the stairs instead of using the elevator, park the car a few spaces further from the door, do upper body movement while watching a favorite movie or TV show, walk the mall or grocery store in a climate controlled and safe environment, and practice your balance while standing in place or talking on the phone.

Here’s a message expressed by President John F. Kennedy:

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

And from Ralph Waldo Emerson,the first wealth is health.”

Here’s to your health!