By the time people reach their golden years, they've hopefully found a way to exercise that works for their individual needs. However, that is not always reality.
Many seniors may not be used to exercising regularly and, as a result, are hesitant to start.
As one ages, being active becomes increasingly more important to staying healthy. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the benefits of physical activity among older adults include a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes. Exercise helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
With National Senior Health & Fitness Day happening May 31, now is the time to re-dedicate yourself or to help a family member or friend. You can motivate your loved ones to participate with you in any local activities on the day, and then continue to create a personal fitness regimen together.
To help, here are five ideas on how to stay active as you age. Whether you are a senior looking for tips, or you want to help an aging parent or loved one, these tips work for people of all ages.
1. Find an activity you enjoy
It doesn’t matter what activity you choose, as long as it’s something you like. Studies show people are more likely to continue exercising over a sustained amount of time when they find an activity enjoyable or rewarding. That being said, choose something that’s safe and gets your heart rate up. If the weather is too hot or cold, don’t fret. Check out the options at a community recreation center, take a tour of a nearby gym or consider doing a workout at home.
If you have elderly parents whom you'd like to encourage to be more active, consider offering some options they'd enjoy individually, or offer to be physically active with them. Sometimes half the battle is finding a workout buddy.
2. Get outdoors more
On days when the weather isn't extreme, being outdoors offers many ways to be active while enjoying the beauty of nature. Hiking lets people go at their own pace and choose trails according to skill level. Gardening presents rewards such as a healthy crop or beautiful blooming flowers, and it is not difficult to begin later in life. It's also an activity you can easily start with a friend or family member who could benefit from more physical exercise. You and a loved one can even do typically indoor exercises, such as aerobics or yoga, in your backyard.
Take advantage of nearby areas to explore your city or reconnect with nature. Even in extreme temperatures, timely planning and appropriate clothing can help you enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, so don't let winter or summer limit your outdoor exercise options.
3. Exercise to socialize
If you’re finding it hard to stay connected with family members or friends, start an exercise group. Here are some options you can do to get started:
- Tai chi class
- Yoga class
- Dance lessons (you can do this with your significant other, too)
- Water aerobics
- Bowling team
With these activities, you can experience new things or reawaken old hobbies while getting the physical movement everybody needs. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and it can renew old friendships and create new ones in the process. For children of aging parents, some of these activities present an informal way to spend time together while also improving your health.
4. Use technology
Don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons. Seniors might be surprised at what they find that could turn into their favorite new workout. Today's technology allows for many types of in-home exercise at the touch of a button. If you don't consider yourself technologically savvy, ask a friend or family member for help setting up and operating any equipment.
Some of the latest exercise tools to look into include the Wii Fit or the Xbox Kinect. Both consoles offer customizable exercise programs that can be completed individually or with friends and family through different games. Never has being active been easier — from the comfort of your home, too.
5. Make the most of your Medicare coverage
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may not be using all the benefits that are available to you. Your health plan is there to keep you healthy all year long, not just for coverage when you get sick. Many health plans, such as Priority Health*, offer no cost gym memberships and at-home fitness kits to Medicare Advantage members.
Priority Health partners with Silver&Fit to help seniors get and stay at their healthiest. Through Silver&Fit, members can join a participating gym, receive a comprehensive tour of the facility, learn how to use the equipment, workout at their own pace and join a community of other active seniors.
For more tips on healthy living, no matter your age, visit thinkhealth.priorityhealth.com.