When looking for easy fitness activities, it is important that the activity meets three recommendations...
- First, the activity should require little, if any, equipment.
- Second, the activity should be able to be done almost anywhere, you should be able to utilize space within or outside a traditional fitness center.
- Finally, the activity should be able to be individualized easily, meaning it is adaptable to each person and their fitness related goals.
Included here are four different areas of fitness which provide easy fitness activities for older adults. These activities will keep you active and focus on different components of fitness, which are important to overall health. Additionally, each area provides some general guidelines and suggestions which will help make the exercise fun.
The first easy fitness activity is walking. It is one of the most simple forms of exercise, yet provides numerous health and fitness related benefits for seniors. With benefits to the cardiorespiratory system, mobility, balance, mood state, stress relief, and overall independence, regular walking is one of the best forms of exercise to include in your weekly exercise schedule. All you need is a good pair of shoes and the ability to walk outdoors or inside awaits. Here’s a couple suggestions for a regular walking program:
- Start a walking group with friends and family
- Bring water with you while you walk
- Plan out your route to allow for potential rest areas
2. Resistance training
Research trends show the importance of regular resistance training for older adults. Regular resistance training utilizing major muscle groups maintains muscle mass, helps continue activities of daily living and supports independence. Although some resistance training machines can be daunting, basic resistance training exercises with a small amount of equipment can be a very easy and productive form of activity. Many exercises can be done using body weight for resistance such as chair stands, hip raise, squats, calf-raise, modified push-ups, and triceps extension using the arms of the chair. Additionally, exercises which work on low back strengthening and rotator cuff strength often translate well to activities of daily living. Purchasing basic equipment such as dumbbells and resistance training bands can help add variation to the resistance training program and make for an easy fitness activity for older adults.
3. Flexibility training
Although flexibility training is often a supplement to a regular cardiovascular and resistance training program, it is a very important aspect of any regular fitness program for older adults. Flexibility can aid in completing activities of daily living and prevent injuries. Static flexibility training is what many of us think of traditional “stretching,” in which the muscle is stretched and the stretch is held for a period of time. This type of flexibility is best done toward the end of your workout, as your muscles will be warmed-up and be able to adapt better to the stretch. I suggest:
- Start at the top of the body and do stretches that stretch all major muscle groups down to the feet
- Stretch each muscle group until you can feel the stretch, but not to the point of discomfort
- Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds
- Not comfortable on the floor? Most stretches can be done seated in a chair, or holding on to the chair.
4. Yoga and Tai Chi
The final easy fitness activity for seniors I want to highlight is yoga and tai chi. Although they are separate from one another they hold many of the same benefits. The slow, controlled movement characteristics of each with concentration on breathing have been shown to increase balance and flexibility, help with stress relief, and reduce blood pressure. The emphasis on proper breathing helps create a sense of relaxation and promotes deep breathing. Many yoga poses and tai chi forms are adaptable as they can be done seated in a chair, with chair assistance, or free standing. Additionally, they can be done in a fitness center, in your own home, or even outside.
Fitness should be fun and finding activities which are easy to take part in will help make it fun and increase your participation rate in the program. There are many different ways to stay active and the four areas highlighted here provide several different options for easy fitness activities for older adults. These activities require very little equipment or space and can be adapted to meet your abilities and goals. I hope you put these to use and have a very enjoyable autumn!