For older adults and seniors who want to stay healthy and independent, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend four types of exercises:
1. Strength exercises build older adult muscles and increase your metabolism, which helps to keep your weight and blood sugar in check. As you age muscle mass naturally decreases, so it is important to work at maintaining what you have through strength training.
2. Balance exercises build leg muscles, and this helps to prevent falls. According to the NIH, U.S. hospitals have 300,000 admissions for broken hips each year, many of them seniors, and falling is often the cause of those fractures. It is best to begin working on your balance now, no matter what your age…If you don’t use it you lose it! If you are a senior, balance exercises can help you stay independent by helping you avoid the disabilities that could result from falling.
3. Stretching exercises can give you more freedom of movement, which will allow you to be more active during your senior years. Stretching exercises alone will not improve your endurance or strength. Again, don’t wait for tight muscles to happen; instead keep them limber and prevent injury and/or tightness by beginning a regular stretching routine now.
4. Endurance exercises are any activity – walking, jogging, swimming, biking, even raking leaves – that increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Build up your endurance gradually, starting with as little as 5 minutes of endurance activities at a time.
These four exercises are really excellent for any age group, but especially important for aging adults and seniors who are more susceptible to health problems as they get older. If you are unsure of what types of exercises you should be doing for your age and fitness level, consider hiring a personal trainer for at least one session to consult with and start you out on the right track. The trainer can be sure that you are using the correct form and give you ideas for staying on track and safely progressing during your workouts.