In your later years, you might exercise differently than when you were younger. While a select few people enjoy contact sports like rugby, hockey, judo, and lacrosse into their sixties, people of advanced age usually choose sports with less risk of traumatic injury. Seniors simply don’t heal as fast. Luckily, there are plenty of sports and activities that you can enjoy and adapt to match your abilities and risk tolerance well into your seventies and eighties.
Pick Your Favorite Activity
Finding an activity or sport you enjoy and can do with others helps motivate you to exercise frequently. People of all ages, including senior citizens, discover a wide variety of rewarding and relatively safe physical activities. Some popular options include:
- Tennis and Pickleball
- Hiking and walking
- Regular and Water Aerobics
- Strength Training
- Kayaking, Canoeing, and Stand-Up Paddling
Choosing several activities and doing different types throughout the week develops strength, endurance, and stability. Balance is important to prevent falling. Bad falls are a leading cause of senior citizens going into the ER. Cardiovascular fitness comes from maintaining moderate-intensity physical activity for 150 minutes per week. Moderate intensity means your heart is pumping at about 65% capacity, and breathing is somewhat heavy. Your max heart rate is generally 220 minus your age. Aerobic activity prevents and manages many common conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Strength training is essential to avoid muscle loss and osteoporosis. Strong muscles and bones help prevent falls and reduce the likelihood of significant trauma if you do fall.
If you have not been exercising regularly, start by consulting your physician about what is safe. They may suggest that you begin with consistent, light exercise and gradually increase the intensity and length. Ten minutes per day of light training is better than nothing. If you start you push yourself too hard, you increase your chance of getting hurt or having a cardiac event. Both of those would set you back.
Here are some suggestions if you have significant physical limitations:
- Take a walk each day. The assistance of a caregiver, a cane, or a walker can safely increase the length of your walk.
- Move to your favorite music, even if you can’t “dance” in the traditional sense.
- Try a chair-based exercise program.
- Look for water exercise classes for low-impact activity that is easy on your joints.
- Pedal a recumbent bike.
- Lift light weights. Canned food can substitute for weights.
- Stretch with exercise balls and bands.
- Do some light gardening or housekeeping.
The Center for Disease Control offers a wealth of information for seniors wanting to stay physically fit. Silver Sneakers is a Medicare program that offers free and low-cost exercise programs in recreation centers and online. Personal trainers and physical therapists often provide specialized classes for seniors that incorporate strength training, aerobic activities, and balance exercises. Likewise, many TV programs and apps are available with exercise routines designed for people with physical limitations. You can even ask a current group of friends to be your workout partner and encourage each other.
Staying Healthy for Yourself and Those You Love
Prioritizing exercise is an investment in your health and relationships. As you consider how to take care of yourself for many years, also plan for future medical decisions. Creating a living will or medical power of attorney is less fun than golfing, but it is just as important. If you have questions about any aspects of aging, please contact us today at (631) 686-6500 to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters.