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Ingleside at Rock Creek Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The benefits of exercise for seniors: aerobics, weight and flexibility training

We all know the benefits of exercise, especially as we grow older. It’s one action we can take that directly impacts our overall health and longevity. It can also play an influential role in helping us remain independent.

And the good news is that we can start at any age. Because it’s never too late.

How exercise benefits seniors

The clock is ticking for all of us but once we understand the advantages that exercising can provide, it may become easier to start moving. Here are a few benefits for those who start a routine and stick with it:

  • A lower risk of heart disease

  • Increased ability to manage pain symptoms

  • Help in maintaining a healthy weight

  • Improvement in balance and flexibility, reducing the risk of falling

  • A boost in metabolism and building up muscle mass

  • An improvement in mood and outlook on life

  • Enhanced memory and delay or decrease in dementia risk

  • Improvement in immune and digestive systems

Although all exercise is beneficial, they don’t deliver the same gains or results. Concentrating on three areas can especially help older adults improve movements they make daily.

Benefits of aerobic exercise when you grow older 

When you aerobic exercise, you’re not only doing your heart a favor but your endurance as well. You’ll begin to enjoy the benefits of getting into shape fairly soon.

Anything that gets your heart pumping can have a positive impact. Keeping up with a routine can decrease the shortness of breath often triggered by activity. You should also begin to feel less fatigued and enjoy an increase in energy.  

When you build up your endurance, you’ll notice the improvement when walking, climbing the stairs, cleaning your house or performing other physical errands. Along with other healthy habits, this can also help you live independently longer.

Examples of aerobic exercises to try:

  • Brisk walking

  • Running

  • Stair climbing

  • Swimming

  • Hiking

  • Biking

  • Tennis

  • Dancing

Choose a few that interest you or sound like fun. The key to sticking with an exercise routine is enjoyment. It’s hard to motivate yourself to do something you don’t like.

Benefits of weight training when you grow older

If you thought your weight training days were behind you, or if you’ve avoided it this long, you should reset your thinking. We’re not talking about bench pressing or bulging muscles. But the benefits you’ll receive while training with weights is more than worth the effort.

Strength and weight training build up your muscles by completing repetitive motions, either by using weights, resistance from machines, elastic bands or your own body weight.

The benefits can include prevention of bone mass loss, an increase in muscle and improving your balance, which can decrease your risk of falling and help you stay independent longer.

You’ll appreciate the improvements you’ll see in your daily life. Even simple movements such as opening jars, getting into and out of cars and lifting objects can become easier. And it’s also been discovered that not only can weight training build strength and muscle mass, it may also increase an older adult’s motivation and confidence to continue exercising.

Examples of weight training exercises to try:

Dumbbell exercises that touch every muscle group and done at least twice weekly can be very effective. It’s better to start with lighter weights and work your way up. And make sure you’re in complete control of the movement. The following include how to perform the exercises:

Benefits of flexibility training when you grow older

As we age, we can begin to lose some of our flexibility. The causes can include a loss of water in our tissues, increased stiffness in our joints and less elasticity in our tendons.

Stretching can do wonders to give you back some of your flexibility. When you move your joints through a full range of motion, such as doing stretches in place or while moving, you’re able to better protect your muscles and joints from injury.

Improving your range of motion is another advantage, which can help with even simple things, such as washing your hair or playing with your grandkids.

Other benefits of improving your flexibility include:

  • Increased ability to perform daily physical activities without injury

  • Decreased risk of muscle strains or fractures

  • Improved balance which decreases your risk of falling

  • Decreased chronic pain

  • Increased blood flow and energy levels

  • Improved posture

Examples of flexibility training exercises to try:

  • Stretching exercises can be the most effective. This link provides examples

  • Yoga

  • Moving. Sitting in one place too long will make you stiff.

  • Take a walk or any activity that gets you in motion

Tips for senior exercises

We want to gain the benefits and avoid any injuries while exercising. It’s always a good idea to check with your medical team if there are any activities you should avoid.

Other basic recommendations for senior exercises include:

1. Remain safe. Make sure you are using equipment correctly, have the proper footwear and are exercising in a clear area.

2. Listen to your body. It will tell you if you’re pushing too hard or when it’s time to slow down.

3. You shouldn’t feel pain. And if you become short of breath, develop chest pains or dizziness, stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

4. Start slowly. Begin new routines slowly and build up your endurance.

5. Warm up and cool down. Begin and end every routine following this rule.

6. Commit to a schedule. This is the best way to form the habit of staying in shape. If you don’t exercise regularly, it becomes easier to skip a day or stop all together.

How Ingleside at Rock Creek Independent Living can help

If you decide to make your home in our community, not only will you have a beautiful place to live but you’ll also have access to our well-equipped fitness center.

You’ll find everything you need to create and follow through on your new exercise routine. And before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the benefits that movement can bring to both your physical and emotional health.

We also offer classes and are here to support our residents in their fitness goals. One of the biggest motivations we have found is when you join in with a friend or two and encourage each other to keep moving. Plus, it just makes it more fun.

Please visit our website for more information. Call (202) 846-2651 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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