Contrary to what many people think, today’s seniors are refusing to become shut-ins. This generation of seniors is far more likely to remain fit as well as mobile. What activities do they engage in and what are the benefits? Here are seven more ways for seniors to stay physically active.
The benefits of walking for seniors are indisputable, says physician Michael Pratt, first chief for the Physical Activity and Health Branch in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Walking is a tremendously good activity for senior citizens. It’s cheap, it’s simple, almost anybody can do it. It has very real benefits,” including “maintaining mobility and independence,” Pratt said.
Seniors are flocking to pools to stay in shape. Whether they engage in water walking or aqua aerobics, seniors experience less joint impact than they do during other exercises performed on land. Symptoms from health ailments such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, back problems, and osteoporosis can be reduced with physical activity.
Resourceful seniors who want to stay active and engaged are putting their energy into volunteering. Many are lending their expertise and experience to programs operated by churches, community centers, schools and the like. They’re also participating in large-scale programs such as the Salute to Senior Service program whose benefits are just as beneficial for the volunteers as the people they assist.
Arts and crafts
Seniors have an affinity for creative pursuits. For some, the difficulty lies in selecting the activity that best suits them. From antiquing to scrapbooking, and glass blowing to pottery making, arts and crafts are known to boost cognitive, psychological and physical health.
Mentoring and teaching
Seniors are getting in touch with nearby schools so they can share their talents and knowledge with students from kindergarten through college. They even mentor professionals of all ages at previous or current places of employment.
The ancient practice of yoga improves not only body mechanics (composition, flexibility strength) but body awareness.
For a senior, this enhanced awareness can translate into an increased confidence in their ability to get around without falling. “Balance is one of the first things we start losing as we age,” said Lucy Lomax, a certified yoga instructor in Maryland, in this article on the physical benefits of remaining active as we age. This is why she has some of the seniors who come to her classes use chairs or a wall to help steady them in certain poses. In fact, yoga has been shown to:
- Improve sleep quality and depression
- Reduce stress
- Help control blood sugar in diabetics
- Enhance respiratory function
- Help alleviate arthritis pain
- Increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis
- Moderate chronic pain
Those common side effects of aging – like aches and pains, stiffened joints and ligaments, and decreased strength and mobility – can have a huge impact on whether seniors remain physically active. That’s probably why a growing number of seniors have incorporated regular massage treatments into their lives. The benefits of massage therapy for seniors include:
- Improvement in length and quality of sleep
- Relief of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness
- Alleviation of headaches
- Speeding up of healing from injury and illness
- Partial restoration of mobility lost due to Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, etc.
- Improvement in lymphatic flow, which increases the excretion of toxic substances from the body
These days, seniors are more determined than ever to preserve their health and vitality. After all, aging is inevitable – but inactivity is not.