Senior Fitness: How To Enjoy Exercise Without Injuring Yourself

As seniors, there are many ways to stay active. No matter what your age, you can find activities that meet your fitness level, physical abilities, and needs. Health experts say that older adults should be active every day to maintain their health, whether through physical activity or regular exercise. When thinking about ways to be active, consider doing exercises that you can fit into your daily life.  No which exercises you choose, it is important that you do them safely.  Choose activities that appeal to you and that suit your lifestyle, budget, and health.

Tips To Avoid Injury

When you exercise, follow these tips to avoid injury:

  • Begin slowly with low-intensity exercises.
  • Wait at least 2 hours after eating a large meal before doing strenuous exercise.
  • Wear appropriate shoes for your activity and comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely but won’t catch on other objects.
  • Warm up with low-intensity exercises at the beginning of each exercise session.
  • Drink water before, during, and after your exercise session.
  • When exercising outdoors, pay attention to your surroundings — consider possible traffic hazards, the weather, uneven walking surfaces, and strangers.

When to Stop Exercising

Stop exercising if you:

  • Have pain or pressure in your chest, neck, shoulder, or arm
  • Feel dizzy or sick to your stomach
  • Break out in a cold sweat
  • Have muscle cramps
  • Feel severe pain in joints, feet, ankles, or legs

Do What You Enjoy

The best type of exercise are activities you truly enjoy.  If you prefer individual activities, try swimming, gardening, or walking.  Dancing or playing tennis may be for you if you enjoy two-person activities. If group activities appeal to you, try a sport such as basketball or join an exercise class. Some people find that going to a gym regularly or working with a fitness trainer helps them stay motivated.

Examples of physical activities that build endurance include:

  • brisk walking
  • yard work (mowing, raking)
  • dancing
  • aerobics classes
  • yoga, pilates, stretching & balance
  • jogging
  • swimming, water exercises
  • biking
  • climbing stairs or hills
  • playing tennis
  • playing basketball
  • weight training

Another way is to combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of your day, such as walking the dog or doing household chores. You could also check out an exercise video from the library or use the fitness center at a local senior center.

Look for activities that are in line with your budget. Many physical activities — such as brisk walking, raking leaves, or taking the stairs whenever you can — are free or low cost and do not require special equipment

Health Considerations

To further ensure that you exercise safely, make sure you consider your health when deciding which activities you would like to do. You may want to talk with your doctor if you aren’t used to energetic activity and you want to start a vigorous exercise program or significantly increase your physical activity. You also should talk with your doctor if you have recently had hip or back surgery, or you have uncontrolled health problems, or chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis. Doctors rarely tell people not to exercise, but they may have certain safety tips for those who have these conditions.

Choose Variety

Most people tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity and think they’re doing enough. Consider adding variety into your activity routine. Try to choose activities that include all four types of exercise — endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance — because each type has different benefits. Doing one kind also can improve your ability to do the others. In addition, variety helps reduce boredom and risk of injury.

There are so many ways to stay active. No matter what your age, you can find activities that meet your fitness level, physical abilities, and needs.

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