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Fitness Programs for the Elderly
Age is no excuse to stop exercising, although it does become more challenging. The older population has challenges such as joint pain, balance problems and other physical limitations. However, the National Institutes of Health reports that senior citizens need exercise to improve mood and ward off or help manage diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Long-term exercise can also improve joint function, strength and bone density. Seniors should have a goal of 60 minutes per day of exercise, although any amount of added physical activity will help.
Exercising in water is a great option for seniors because it is easier on the joints and doesn't require the same level of balance as exercising on a hard surface. You don't even need to know how to swim since most of the exercises are done in water between waist and chest deep. Water also adds resistance to the workout, so walking laps in a pool burns more calories and offers more muscle challenge than walking on a track. Walking in deep water offers more resistance than shallow water. You may also intensify a water workout by using hand webs and pumping your arms in and out of the water.
Older people with balance problems or strength issues can get a good workout without having to stand. You can accomplish stretching and strength training by adding a resistance band to your workout. You can also add weights to your wrists and ankles, or hold them in your hands, to intensify the strength training aspect of the exercise. There are various videos on seated workouts that help to motivate and explain exercises for everything from aerobics and stretching to pilates. Make sure to pull in your abdominal muscles and sit up straight when exercising.
Senior Center Programs
Many senior centers have organized exercise groups for members. The groups are traditionally led by a person with experience in teaching exercise to the elderly and who is also experienced in adapting the exercises for the different levels of ability in the group. Senior groups may also organize regular walks at the mall or in a local park. Those types of groups not only offer the opportunity to exercise, but also the opportunity to socialize. Additionally, your local senior center may offer classes in ballroom or line dancing that give you a chance to get moving while having fun.
Erin Monahan is an author and editor with over 25 years experience. She has written on a variety of topics including celebrity interviews, health reporting and parenting. Her work has appeared in daily newspapers and national magazines, including "Wondertime," and on websites such as Kaboose.com. She was recently named one of the top writers in Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simmons College.