Safe Summer Fitness Activities for Seniors
Exercise should continue deep into your golden years to keep your body and mind running at peak performance. While we know the importance of regular exercise at every age, only 11 percent of Americans over age 65 met the Federal physical activity guidelines in 2010, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Seniors can get the fitness they need while keeping cool this summer season by engaging in the following activities:
Both indoor and outdoor swimming facilities are excellent ways to maintain a healthy, more active lifestyle. Swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve artery health, and can help swimmers gain body tone and muscle strength. It is the ideal activity for seniors, as it puts minimal stress on the joints compared to non-water exercises.
Hot or rainy temperatures can put a damper on your exercising efforts. If the weather is not up to par, walk indoors to improve your health and boost your spirit. Walking can be done anywhere, including inside your home, at a shopping center, inside an office building, or around a fitness center. Indoor walking allows seniors to stay in shape while keeping cool in an air conditioned environment. Use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you’re taking daily, and increase your steps gradually.
If swimming is not your thing, perhaps a session of water aerobics will show you the benefits of water exercise. In addition to increasing metabolism, water aerobics can improve cardiovascular health, increase strength, and slow down the age-related loss of muscle mass. Turn your pool into an aquatic fitness center by incorporating new pool noodles or AquaJogger pool fitness gear, available at PoolProducts.com. There are social and psychological benefits to swimming as well.
Whether on a bike outdoors or inside on an elliptical, cycling can be good for the body and soul. According to the European Economic and Social Committee, cycling has a positive effect on emotional health, improving self-confidence, tolerance to stress, and well-being, while decreasing fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and various medical problems. Cycling is also much easier on your legs, knees, ankles, and feet than running, and can get your heart pumping without putting excessive pressure on your joints.
Pilates is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, and can be done anywhere. It helps promote better posture and spine health, enhance flexibility of the back muscles, and helps maintain muscle mass that is often lost by the aging process. Pilates also helps to improve balance and coordination, and gives seniors a feeling of renewed energy and vigor. For those with limited mobility, Pilates can also be performed on a floor mat or even in a chair. Therapeutic accessories like elastic bands, available at SunShineYoga.com, can provide more resistance.
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Liz is a former geriatric nurse who blogs about issues affecting seniors’ health. She is married with two grown children.