You’ve probably heard over and over again why physical activity is so important to your health.[1. “Why Is It Important?”, Fitness.gov, https://www.fitness.gov/be-active/why-is-it-important/.] Of course, when you’re young, it helps you grow into a strong adult, but physical activity helps fights disease and immobility even as you continue to age. Just because a person hits their golden years doesn’t mean they should slack off! In fact, it’s more important now than ever to continue some type of fitness regimen, so that your aging loved one can enjoy continued vitality.
But what do you do when the older adult in your life is reluctant to embrace the benefits of physical fitness? Why, point them towards some fun senior exercises, of course! Here are some of our favorite activities:
Gardening is a form of physical fitness that pays double dividends. It provides a form of cardio that’s not too vigorous for most older adults, in addition to working minor and major muscle groups. If leaning over a plot of land is too much for your loved one, there are plenty of options for tabletop gardening they can do — they can plant beautiful flowers and herbs in small pots or raised beds for easy access. Plus, when it’s all said and done, your loved one will have lovely decorations as well as herbs that make food flavorful and provide health benefits.
Swimming is an ideal form of exercise for those with limited mobility. As long as they have the appropriate supervision, many older adults enjoy the freeing feeling of being in the water. It’s also great if your loved one needs a low-impact or non-weight-bearing workout due to a medical condition. Swimming is known to help ease bone and joint pain. And if they think doing laps is boring, many fitness centers have specialized senior swim time with things like games and aerobics done right in the water.
This one might sound boring, but not only is it effective, it’s another activity that helps in more ways than one. You’ve probably heard that keeping house burns calories, and boy, is it true. By the time you get done dusting, sweeping, and mopping, you’re ready for a cool down. Beyond physical health, keeping a clean and tidy home has also shown to help improve mental health.[2.”Regular Cleaning is Good for Your Heart and Soul,” Huffington Post, November 15, 2013, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/saudia-davis/regular-cleaning-is-good-_b_4283365.html.] The older adult in your life may not be able to do the amount of housework they used to, but encourage them to do what they can. Make it fun by putting on some exciting music or treat yourselves to a reward after it’s done. And if your loved one can’t handle certain chores, like vacuuming, you can always get a home care aide to fill in the gaps.
Who knew that lifting cans, bottles, and even heavy pieces of fruit was a sneaky way to fit exercise into your day? If your loved one can no longer do the grocery shopping alone, they can still benefit from this form of activity. While shopping with your loved one, encourage them to push the shopping cart while using it for balance, or even doing a few bicep curls with a soup can before putting it away. And why not continue the healthy habits once you’re home by putting junk foods in the back of the freezer or cupboard, where they’re harder to get to? Even though it’s incredibly important throughout life, proper nutrition becomes more integral to maintaining health as we get older.
Play with the Grandkids
This is a form of exercise most older adults are sure to love – and they may not even realize they’re doing it! Little kids are such balls of energy that lifting them, running after them, and playing games with them takes serious juice. Beyond physical health, connecting with younger generations improves emotional health and cognitive function.[3.”Babysitting Grandkids Could Lower Risk for Alzheimer’s,” Alzheimers.net, August 1, 2014, https://www.alzheimers.net/8-1-14-babysitting-grandkids-alzheimers.] Heck, after they’re gone, your loved one may need a break from all that exercise!
Don’t Stop There – Come Up with Your Own Fun Senior Exercises
The older adult in your life is by no means confined to the brief list of exercises found here. Feel free to help them brainstorm their own ideas. The odds are good that there is some form of physical activity they enjoy; they just may not realize it yet! Perhaps you can translate their love of gazing out the car window into country walks, or their love of salsa music into a dance class.[4. “Seniors dancing to fight aging process, News 10, November 24, 2015, https://news10.com/2015/11/24/seniors-dancing-to-fight-aging-process/] The possibilities are endless, so start finding some today!
If you’re unsure how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.