Retirement and the years beyond it can be a time that’s rich in friendships, travel and new experiences. But it’s also a time to be mindful of either establishing or maintaining a regular exercise routine. Staying healthy is especially important as people age. And exercising at home can be really convenient.
Many seniors may find themselves transitioning into a let-it-slide mentality when it comes to workouts, but a lifestyle that’s too sedentary can be harmful to a person’s mental and physical health. With a little motivation, it’s easy to find ways to work out at home. Here are some of the best exercises for seniors to do at home – and why it’s so important.
Why regular exercise is so important for seniors
If someone is already physically active, keeping a regular workout routine as they age can be relatively easy. But for anyone starting an exercise routine as a senior – or increasing their normal workout intensity or duration – it’s always important to check with your doctor first. Beyond that, the question isn’t if seniors should work out regularly, but how much workout time they should commit to each week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being physically active is one of the top preventative measures a person can do to maintain their own health. Exercise continues to build muscle, even as the body ages. It also continues to help maintain or decrease a person’s weight, depending on how long and intensely a person exercises.
How much exercise should seniors get each week?
If a senior has mobility issues, they should check with their healthcare provider about which exercises they are able to do, and how intense the level of cardio or strength training should be. U.S. health officials say any commitment to working out is better than being sedentary, but there are some general federal guidelines for seniors and exercise. For adults 65 and older, these are:
- Two workout sessions a week dedicated to muscle-strengthening work.
- Spend 75 minutes a week on high-intensity activities. Running or hiking are examples of this. Or, spend at least 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) each week on some form of more moderate activity. This could include brisk walking outside or time on an inside treadmill or elliptical machine.
- Include some balance-building activities like Pilates, squats, yoga poses, or even balancing on one foot.
Best exercise options for seniors at home
Finding the right exercises depend on personal preference, but variation always keeps things from getting boring. For example, if someone likes walking, they can mix it up with brisk walks outside, walks with friends and sessions on a treadmill. The same goes for running. If they love cardio, they can mix it up by following workout videos, time spent on an at-home rowing machine or even salsa dancing. Other examples for seniors to consider:
Yoga: Whether it is basic yoga, tai chi, Pilates or chair yoga for those with mobility issues, anything in this family of exercises will help maintain and increase flexibility. This is even more important as people age.
Strength training: This could be free weights like easy hand-held dumbbells, resistance bands or in-home gym machines. Incorporating muscle-building exercises as you age is important.