Is exercise for seniors really important?
Do we really need to do that stuff?
Will it really make any difference?
Senior Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or unpleasant.
In fact, our daily exercise can be
one of the best and MOST FUN parts of the whole day.
If we do it right.
Yes. This is really possible. All you have to do is keep changing things up. That means: Change what you choose to do on a regular basis, and it will never get dull and boring.
That’s what we’re going to talk about today: Doing enjoyable things each day that:
Did you ever start an exercise program when you were considerably younger, get really excited about the whole thing, work at it for a few weeks or even a few months, and then…..quit…..?
Because any single exercise program will eventually get b o r i n g!
Staying fit and strong not only requires good exercise, it requires you to change up your exercises regularly and often.
Why does almost no one ever tell us this?
Did you know that almost every professional athlete has a down season? That’s a time when they stop playing their sport for a while and do other physical activities.
Baseball and Football Players
etc, etc, etc…..
Do you know why?
Their muscles need time to do other things so that they don’t get stale, or, over trained (overtraining actually causes loss of ability).
And, the Pros get bored too. Just like us.
So, it’s important to constantly do different things each month to get variety. It’s way more fun and you’ll feel better and stronger for it.
I have to talk about including dancing in your exercise schedule. Yes, dancing is exercise. One of the very best!
People who do social dancing never tire of it.
Because social dancing is improvisational. You never dance to the same song the exact same way twice.
Did you know dancing is the #1 proven and scientifically credited activity for keeping us sharp upstairs? For not deteriorating up there?
And, with dancing, unlike other exercise for seniors, you are always improvising, changing patterns, learning new things and new ways to move.
Seniors who love dancing really don’t ever seem to get tired of this “Exercise for Seniors”.
It’s almost like saying ice cream will make you fit!
Dancing is not just for younger athletic seniors either. It’s for all of
us. At any age. It’s the single best exercise for elderly
seniors as well.
Dancing, even if you’re confined to a chair, is so much fun, entirely social, and, you don’t have to be good at all to enjoy it and reap all the wonderful benefits!
Take a look:
Chair Dancing for Seniors
"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."
How many of you reading this are thinking that? Hmmmm? Got two left feet?
We hear that all the time.
And, here’s the answer for you:
It doesn’t matter. Here’s why:
OK, maybe you’re never going to be a great dancer. Maybe not even a good one. Even with years of practice. You’re not going to become Fred Astaire. But: you can move to the music, get stronger, and have a great time in the process.
Dancing can give anyone A GREAT Workout. It’s never too hard. It’s never too easy. You determine how long and how strenuously you wish to dance. You are always in control.
Besides all the “exercise” benefits dancing provides, take a look at what other benefits you receive:
Good balance comes more and more important as we get older. Balance helps us ,aintain our mobility and avoid falling.
When we dance we transfer our weight and balance from one foot to the other. Back and forth.
A good teacher knows how to go slowly with us seniors. And, most of us are surprised at how easily we progress, and, how much better our walking capabilities become.
We don’t need to spend years doing Yoga, Ballet, or Martial Arts (unless we enjoy that) to see and feel a wonderful improvement in our flexibility from just dancing casually and/or socially.
Simply moving our bodies in different ways, gently and pleasurably, can lead to easier movement in all the things we do throughout our day.
Did you know that dancing is one of the best exercises for keeping sharp upstairs?
In study after study, “Dancing was the most effective physical activity associated with a lower risk of developing memory loss.”
Dancing is a physical creative expression. In Tango we often would say the dancers: “Paint pictures with their feet.”
Whether your are flowing gracefully across a dance floor, or, just moving in place in your chair, Dancing makes us happy, connects us with others, and inspires a feeling of Joy!
Dance classes are a GREAT place to meet new people. Seniors and younger adults alike.
You can find dance classes for seniors in dance studios, senior communities, and some exercise studios. You can even take beginner classes where age is mixed.
I, personally, am a Tango dancer. I began 11 years ago when I was 59. I had always wanted to learn to dance. And, one day I simply said, “today is the day”.
Part of the beauty I found in dancing Tango, and taking classes, is that I have partners who range in age from 16 to 95. Yes 95! Take a look at my friend Phyllis here dancing with her instructor Marcos. Not everyone is going to be as spry as my friend Phyllis, but she is an inspiration! I believe she is 92 in this video:
Yes, if you are dancing Tango, or, ballroom dancing, you’re going to need some space.
But, if you’re just in the mood to move, even a tiny apartment can be big enough. There is no space restriction for just moving in place, foot to foot, groovin’ to the music, swinging your arms and legs… And, Having a GOOD Time!
If you like lifting weights, great! Swimming, superb! Pilates, wonderful! Volleyball? Yes!…. Anything you enjoy can work.
Pretty much most any exercise can be toned down and made appropriate for seniors.
OK you athletes, don’t get all upset with me here about the “toning down” of exercise. We’re not all athletes like you are.
But, you athletes probably have lots of friends who are not as athletic as you and these exercise recommendations can do them a lot of good. Hopefully you can help get them moving again and help them get stronger.
Running, tennis, badminton, swimming, baseball, ping pong, or any other sport that doesn’t involve hard contact, can usually be modified in some way to accommodate out senior and even elderly senior abilities.
Maybe harder exercises like running and weight lifting are out of the question for you. That doesn’t mean you have to sit in a chair all day and watch life go by. You can still walk to the end of the block and back. Maybe around the block. Maybe a mile or two…. See?
Or, like myself, take a dance class or two. There are beginner classes for every type of dancing. And, seniors are always welcome.
Another exercise for seniors that we have to mention in this article is water exercise for seniors. I can not say enough about water exercise for seniors.
We can get a lot stronger having LOTS of fun in the swimming pool.
Most of us who currently exercise know that swimming is a very best exercise for seniors. I think most of us know that already. But, we may feel too old and out of shape to start swimming again. Am I right?
Swimming has enormous benefits for us seniors. But, so do simple water exercises.
There are water exercise classes for seniors who can’t even swim. Classes where we do different movements in a shallow pool.
What is the point of exercise for seniors in water?
Water exercise is especially wonderful for us because it reduces the pressure on our backs and joints. We can move more freely and easily in the water. We can exercise our muscles nicely and have our joints feel good. Even the late great Jack LaLanne still exercised in water when in his 90s.
Most YMCAs with a pool have water exercise classes for seniors. So do most of the major exercise clubs that have pools.
If you’ve never tried water exercise, you should. You’re in for a most wonderful surprise!
Balance ball exercise for seniors are wonderful for seniors because they not only exercises our muscles, they greatly help improve our balance. And they are done sitting on a big soft ball!
Even just sitting on the balance ball for 20 minutes a day while watching TV or working on the computer has a multitude of benefits.
Take a look at some of the Benefits of using a Balance Ball:
Stick with the fun stuff! The physical things you like to do. If they are not considered an "exercise", ask yourself this: "Am I moving physically (with my whole body) when I am doing this?"
If the answer is "Yes!", you are exercising.
Dancing, bowling, ping pong, hop scotch, badminton, golf, walking, bicycling..... all these things are excellent exercise for seniors.
So, do the “exercises” for seniors that are Fun for YOU! Something different everyday.
There is such a great selection of exercise for seniors that we have devoted an entire article to just the “Fun Stuff” for us seniors. It’s called: “Doing The FUN Stuff! (forget about the rest….)”
To sum it all up: “Have Fun Moving”. In any way, every day.
Whether you choose dancing, water exercise, walking outside, Yoga, or doing online free Video Classes for seniors, keep moving. Every day!
The Whole Point with Exercise for Seniors is This:
Most of us sit in a chair or on the sofa for most of the day after we retire.
Terrible, terrible, terrible..... You'll rot.
We need to keep moving. Our bodies were designed for movement. Our bodies actually require movement to function properly. And, to feel Good!
Move in any way you like. Just get moving every day. For at least 20 minutes a day. Doing something you find physically fun. And, do all kinds of different things. You’ll have the most fun that way, and, variety will pay the best rewards.
You may possibly wind up like our friend Gracie, who makes even her housework fun exercise. She regularly likes to put on LOUD music (AC/DC, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd….) and vacuum the floors in rhythm. That's creative!
Keep moving! Have fun doing it. You’ll reap Major Benefits!
Enjoy! ~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte