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Five Fun and Safe Exercises for Seniors

Date : Apr 30,2014
By : Kandace Heller

The science is in, and it is readily evident that seniors can be healthy, active and happy. It pretty much comes down to genetics, nutrition and exercise. There is not a whole lot that can be done about genetics, but proper nutrition and exercise are wholly in the hands of every senior citizen. Diet can be changed over time, and fun and safe exercises can be started today. Even arthritis is not an excuse to not get moving. There are over a hundred forms of arthritis. For almost every single one, the prescription is to keep on moving!

1. Swimming

At the top of the list for fun and safe activities that promote building strength and range of movement is swimming. Most cities have a public or private swimming facility that is open year round. Check local gyms, community centers and hospital-associated healthy living and exercise centers. Take a senior swimming class to be safe in and around the water. If you need more one on one help, find a private adult swimming coach. This low-impact exercise works even for those with painful joints and difficulty walking.

2. Bicycling

Riding bicycles is not just for kids. There are so many bicyclists today that many areas across the country fund and groom trails for all levels of expertise. Some regions have what are called rail trails. They are the paths former freight trains used to travel. The railroad tracks have been removed and a fine, tightly packed gravel is in their place. Many areas have miles of flat trails available just for bike riding. Also, new bikes for those with disabilities or balance issues are now on the market. These include adult tricycles and recumbent bicycles that are low to the ground and easy to mount and dismount.

3. Walking

All that is needed to take a refreshing walk is a good pair of walking shoes. A walking buddy makes it even more fun. Weather is not an issue because most major malls open early to allow the “mall walkers” in before the stores even open. The same rail trails and municipally sponsored trails for bicycles are also there for walkers. Just keep right and be aware of sticks, small rocks and areas that may have washed out slightly from a rainstorm. Always have a cell phone, and check to make sure the phone has a signal on the trail.

4. Home Gym Equipment

Treadmills and elliptical trainers are popular for those who prefer to exercise at home. An elliptical trainer provides a low impact workout that is less jarring to sensitive joints than a treadmill. There is no need to try and keep up with anyone else, especially the spokesperson advertising the equipment. Adjust the pace to current fitness levels, and slowly build up stamina over time. The best method is slow and steady progress to avoid injury, which leads to lost days of exercise. Read instructions thoroughly on the use of home gym equipment. Before buying, have an in-store private demonstration of how a machine works to make sure it works for the person it is intended for.

5. Golfing

This is probably the number one senior sport. Greens fees, equipment and clothing can add up in costs, but it is fun, it gets the joints moving, and there are bragging rights for those who excel at it. Even the duffers who can never hit a ball straight have fun on the links. The manicured greens and fairways are relaxing, and the social nature of golf is helpful to avoid isolation that many seniors can experience. Using a golf cart is also okay for those who can only walk short distances but can still swing a club. Adaptive equipment is available for golfers with disabilities. Just inquire at the pro shop if the golf course has one.

Seniors need not spend a dime to get moving safely each and every day. Rediscovery of one’s own neighborhood only takes stepping out the front door. If there are any concerns, make some phone calls to senior neighbors and venture out as a group. Start a walking club. Maybe visit other like-minded senior neighbors who would like to exercise at home to a professional exercise DVD designed for senior citizens. The possibilities are endless. It just takes a little creativity and determination to get and stay fit at any age.