last updated July 12, 2020
Physical exercise for elderly seniors, both men and women, is vitally important.
We never reach an age where we just don’t need to exercise any more.
No. This does not mean going to a gym, going jogging, lifting heavy weights, etc. We want to have fun exercising. AND, we can!
What physical exercise for elderly men and women means is: Keep Moving to Keep Moving.
Yes, I know, that sounds clever and cute and so cliche that it almost makes some of us want to vomit. Am I right?
But, it’s true.
And, what most of us don’t know is:
Physical Exercise for elderly people can be fun.
It can, yes it CAN be pleasurable and fun!
Let’s see how:
We’re old now. Yes old. We just want to be comfortable and do the things we want to do now. And, that’s what we should be doing.
BUT, did you know that to just do the things we want to do, and need to do each day, we need a certain amount of strength? And, here’s the important point: The more strength we have, the easier it is to do everything.
As older people we sometimes feel like getting stronger is impossible. Am I right? But, did you know all the studies show that getting stronger, even over the age of 90, is totally possible?
Take a look at an excerpt from this article from Science Daily:
“After doing specific training for 12 weeks, people over the age of 90 improved their strength, power and muscle mass. This was reflected in an increase in their walking speed, a greater capacity to get out of their chairs, an improvement in their balance, a significant reduction in the incidence of falls and a significant improvement in muscle power and mass in the lower limbs. These are some of the outcomes of the study recently published in the journal 'Age' of the American Aging Association and which was led by Mikel Izquierdo-Redín, Professor of Physiotherapy at the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre”.
Here is where a lot of us suffer unnecessarily: Our joints. They hurt when we move. Some more, some less. Gentle physical exercise for elderly men and women can help.
Have you noticed that after moving them a bit they feel better and work better? Here’s why:
Joints are hinges. Just like on the doors in our houses. Or, on our cars.
And, just like door hinges, our “hinges” require lubrication to move freely and without squeaking. In our case squeaking = pain.
Now, the muscles in our bodies get a regular flow of blood. That’s what keeps them fresh, oxygenated, and nourished.
Our “hinges”, however, have no circulatory system. They get all their lubrication from movement. Yes, the movement causes the fluids between the bones to move. This fluid lubricates and nourishes them. If we don’t move them, they get no fresh fluid (the “oil” of our joints). This causes our “hinges” to become “rusty”. They get weak, decay, and hurt.
When we move them, we lubricate them.
This fluid in our human "hinges" is called “Synovial Fluid”. It’s a slippery fluid that lubricates our “hinges” and keeps them moving freely and comfortably. This fluid also prevents the bones and cartilage from touching each other and prevents friction and wear.
Do all the joints have synovial fluid?
No. But most of them do.
“….there are a few (joints) that don't contain this fluid and have very limited movement, including the intervertebral (between the vertebrae) discs and the two sacroiliac joints on the back of the pelvis. The rest are synovial joints, which are freely movable and need a system that cushions the ends of the bones, allowing them to glide over each other without friction.” reference: Yoga Journal
The only way this fluid gets pumped through the joints, and flows between them, is by movement.
That is why that saying saying, “Keep Moving to Keep Moving.”, is so true, and, has a very scientific basis.
Physical exercise for elderly has two main goals:
1) Make moving easier (more strength)
2) Make moving feel more comfortable
I mean if we can move around easily during the day, get up from our chairs easily, and do everything with a lot less pain, isn’t a little exercise worth the effort?
And, I do mean a little. It does not take a whole lot. But, we do need a certain amount.
Don’t get scared now. No, we’re not going to be training for marathons. Heck, we’re not even going to attempt running. Or, heavy weight lifting, or all kinds of aerobic exercises that made us ache all over even when we were 30.
Nope. We’re going to Get Moving in all sorts of pleasant ways, throughout the day. And, again, the key is: We’re going to have fun moving (doing things we enjoy) to keep moving.
This is my favorite part. Here you’re going to find the secret to exercise that is always fun.
If you’ve just turned 65 and have been decently active most of your life, you already know what to do.
You can join a Gym with special senior programs. Or, if you’re quite fit, you can still participate in their regular programs. You can jog, bowl, play lawn games, ride a bicycle, etc…. You’re not really old yet and you know what you’re capable of.
But, can you guess the #1 Exercise for Seniors?
The #1 Physical Exercise for Elderly Seniors?
AND: It doesn’t matter how old you are.
Now, for my very elderly friends, before you start screaming at me that I’m an idiot and that you can barely walk, how are you supposed to dance?………. Let me explain all that dancing really is:
“Moving to the music. Any music you like.
Whether standing, seated, or even laying in bed.
Move to the music, and you are dancing.”
Get it? Sound possible? Want to give it a try?
Here is one of my favorite elderly dancing videos for just sitting and swaying to the music. Take a look. I think you’ll love this one.
Our favorite seated DANCING VIDEO for elderly seniors:
Here’s where it gets almost too good to be true.
Not only is elderly dancing fun, it has an enormous amount of physical benefits.
Take a look at this excerpt from the article by yourcareeverywhere.com: “Benefits of Dancing for Seniors”. You’ll learn all the benefits physical exercise for elderly, in the form of dancing, can give:
"As you age, your body loses muscle mass, coordination, and balance, making you more likely to fall and injure yourself in the course of everyday activities. Dancing can help counteract this decline.
Research has found that dancing improves strength and muscle function in older adults, as well as increasing balance and flexibility, leading to better stability and fewer injuries….. And in one study, older adults who participated in a six-week dance program showed improved posture, reaction times, and motor performance.
The benefits of dancing for seniors don’t depend on doing a specific type of dance. A review of multiple studies on dancing and aging found that any style of dance can help maintain or even improve muscle strength, balance, endurance, and other forms of physical vitality in older adults.
One group of researchers even found that people engaged in social or group dancing experience less pain, a particular benefit for seniors who often have to deal with increasing physical discomfort."
Now we’re going to make a distinction of dancing for younger seniors and dancing for the very elderly among us. For obvious reasons. Right?
Dancing is great exercise. For anyone at any age. The best. As a young senior, you know your capabilities. But, as a very elderly person you may totally doubt your ability to participate in any kind of dance.
Always Remember This: Dancing is just moving to your music in any way you can. Formal dancing like ballroom or Tango, or just sitting in your chair and swaying to the music. It all does a body good. It all counts as physical exercise for elderly senior men and women.
OK. Here are our two categories:
2) Elderly Seniors
What’s the difference?
Seniors, by most definitions, start at age 65. AARP says 50. So, you choose. Either way, we’re older. So, who cares what the number is.
Now, if you’ve just entered the senior category, and you’ve been normally active your whole life, not a lot changes here.
You might take dance classes, I personally began dancing Argentine Tango at age 59. I was the oldest in my class. I’m still dancing Tango at 68! Very well I may add.
There is also West Coast Swing Dancing, Ballroom Dancing, Ballet (yes, ballet for seniors), and all kinds of modern dance classes that are tailored just for seniors.
It’s no problem to find all kinds of wonderful athletic dance pursuits for young seniors.
AND, now let’s talk about Elderly Seniors.
Yes, those of us who may be using walkers, and canes and wheelchairs. Or, those of us who are just so old that things have really slowed down a lot and we feel like there is no hope for improvement.
Fear not! Everyone can improve! Even after 90!
So, first, stop being upset or depressed about the slow down. It’s Natural. We all do it if we are lucky enough to live so long.
Even the great Jack LaLanne (A physical Superman) slowed way down at 95. BUT, he was still exercising every morning at his home in Moro Bay, California.
Most of us are never going to be Supermen (or Superwomen) like Jack LaLanne. But, he is such a great inspiration and he gives us an idea of just how great elderly life can still be.
So, now, I want you to go back to that seated dancing exercise video just above. Don’t just look at it this time. Try to do it with them. Even if
you have to do it in the gentlest possible way. It’s fun!
Go do it. Now!
Come on……. go do it. You know you want to give it a try..... Then scroll back down here and finish reading.
OK. In order to keep this article from becoming an entire book, we’ve written another entirely separate article just on Elderly Dancing. If you’re interested, you can find it here:
“Elderly Dancing at Any Age”
Remember: Even if all you can move is your fingers, you can enjoy dancing. If you have other moving parts, get ready to have lots and lots of fun!
Yes, our physical exercise for elderly senior men and women is fun. If all you do in the beginning is this kind of dancing a little each day, even just for five minutes each day, you’re on your way.
And, if you’d like some other exercises to do here’s another special article just for you:
“Making Elderly Exercise Fun and Simple”
You’ll find some great free videos there to exercise along with.
Physical exercise for elderly seniors is fun, if you do it our way. Are you ready to give it try?
For a Happy and More Independent Tomorrow ~ William
* Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise or dance program.