When people think about physical exercise, oftentimes the benefits for both the body and mind will be a motivating factor. But for others who may struggle with implementation or physical limitations, creating an exercise routine may feel like a roadblock and an uphill battle. In those moments of self-doubt, it is important to remember that exercise can be modified for age and body type! The key to success is finding what works best for your individual needs and fitness level and making a mindful attempt to enjoy the process. Yes, enjoying the process means embracing every setback, success, and milestone.
For seniors, activity in the form of exercise becomes increasingly important to improve cognition and physical health in order to sustain better independence- all of which are at the cornerstone of MOWCM’s mission. The importance of incorporating physical exercise in older adulthood is profound; some of the key benefits include disease prevention, improved mental health and cognition, better mobility and stronger muscles, decreased risk of falls, stronger immunity, and the opportunity for better social engagement (National Institute on Aging).
Tips for Implementing a Sustainable Exercise Routine:
Step (1) Find an interest, begin at the level that is easy to maintain, and then stick with it! Do you enjoy walking, swimming, gardening? There is a plethora of exercise choices. Think about what would be most enjoyable to do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and how much your physical body would be able to handle. It is important to speak to a physician about your current fitness level and about any preexisting conditions before getting started. Remember the key to any routine is to have fun and make it a manageable part of your day.
Step (2) Build your routine slowly to reduce the risk of injury.
- Begin with low-intensity exercises.
- Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
- Pay attention to your surroundings when exercising outdoors or in a new environment.
- Drink water before, during, and after your exercise.
- Wear the appropriate fitness clothes and shoes.
Step (3)Set short and long-term goals. Setting goals can be an impactful way to stay motivated but also be realistic in what you would like to accomplish. Remember there is no right or wrong goal to strive for but it’s a great way to keep things manageable and set your direction for success.
Step (4) Make exercise social. Consider setting up a routine with a friend or family member. Also, if you are physically capable, joining a group fitness class can be a great way to meet new people.
Step (5) Always be mindful and listen to your body. It is important to never exert yourself or push too hard, especially in the beginning of your practice. Modify your practice as needed.
Lastly, be proud that you are taking positive steps towards better physical and mental health!
Looking for some exercise ideas, specifically geared towards seniors? Check out the list below with some helpful articles in the references section.
- Water Aerobics
- Chair Yoga
- Tai Chi
- Resistance Band Workouts
Galantino, M. L., Green, L., Decesari, J. A., Mackain, N. A., Rinaldi, S. M., Stevens, M. E., Wurst, V. R., Marsico, R., Nell, M., & Mao, J. J. (2012). Safety and feasibility of modified chair-yoga on functional outcome among elderly at risk for falls. International journal of yoga, 5(2), 146–150. (Safety and feasibility of modified chair-yoga on functional outcome among elderly at risk for falls nih.gov)
Green JS. Effects of a Water Aerobics Program on the Blood Pressure, Percentage of Body Fat, Weight, and Resting Pulse Rate of Senior Citizens. Journal of Applied Gerontology. 1989;8(1):132-138. (Effects of a Water Aerobics Program on the Blood Pressure, Percentage of Body Fat, Weight, and Resting Pulse Rate of Senior Citizens – John Scott Green, 1989 sagepub.com)
Healthline. 2021. Tai Chi for Seniors — 3 Moves to Improve Balance and Stability. [online] Available at: Tai Chi for Seniors: 3 Moves to Improve Balance and Stability (healthline.com)
Howard, B., 2021. Exercises for Lifelong Fitness. [online] AARP. Available at: Exercises for Lifelong Fitness (aarp.org)
National Institute on Aging. 2021. Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity. [online] Available at: Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)