Many adults over the age of 50 struggle with depression. It can be particularly bad for those who are isolated. And let's face it, a lot of us are isolated these days. But there's something we can do to help the people in our lives feel better: workouts for seniors.
Now that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go out and join a fancy gym. You can actually get all of the benefits of exercise right there in the living room.
Today we're going to take you through six incredible workouts for seniors that are not only effective, but they're also a whole lot of fun.
Depression and Isolated Seniors
Depression can cause some serious health problems in older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, socially isolated seniors are at risk for premature death. It really is that serious. In fact, the CDC says loneliness is comparable to obesity and smoking when it comes to the health risks for seniors.
And that's not the only problem.
Isolated seniors are 50 percent more likely to suffer from dementia too. Loneliness has also been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Because loneliness often leads to depression, there is also an increased risk of suicide.
That's the bad news. But there is something that can help fend off feelings of depression and loneliness in isolated adults.
Believe it or not, workouts for seniors can do isolated adults a world of good.
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What the Science Says About Exercise
According to doctors, including those at the Mayo Clinic, exercise can ease anxiety and depression symptoms in all adults. But it's particularly beneficial to seniors.
The problem is when people get depressed, exercise is often the last thing they feel like doing. But if they can find the motivation to get started, workouts for seniors can be extremely helpful.
Exercise can not only counter the symptoms of depression, but it can also prevent those symptoms from coming back once you start feeling better.
It works in two ways.
First, exercise takes your mind off of your worries. It's a great way to break the cycle of negative thoughts.
But even more importantly, workouts for seniors also trigger the release of feel-good endorphins. These natural chemicals in the brain provide a sense of well-being.
The psychological and emotional benefits of exercise shouldn't be underestimated. Doing it regularly can be a huge boost to self-confidence. It's also a very healthy way to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
Elements to Include in the Best Workouts for Seniors
When you're putting together a new workout program for seniors, there are a few things to think about. First, you want something that will get the heart rate up and provide some aerobic exercise. Strength training is also extremely important for seniors. We'll go over this in more detail in a minute.
It would be best if you also looked for exercises that include balance and flexibility work. All six of the workouts for seniors that we're going to go over today meet these criteria.
Other important factors you should consider include:
- Safety of the workout
- Variety of movement
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6 Effective Workouts for Seniors
These six workouts for seniors are not only effective, but they're also fun and appropriate for any fitness level. But before you start any new program, it's always best to check with your doctor first.
One of the tried and true workouts for seniors is simple walking. Walking will elevate the heart rate and improve the cardiovascular system. It's also excellent for balance and mobility, and it can strengthen the muscles and joints. But the best thing about it is that almost anyone can do it.
For former runners, it's a nice gentle alternative that is low impact. That means it's easier on aging joints.
You can try taking a 10 or 20-minute walk around the block on a nice day. But even when the weather isn't cooperating you can still walk in places like shopping malls. You can even do walking exercises right there in the living room.
Here's a great video that will take you through a one-mile walking workout for isolated seniors. This one is ideal for people who don't particularly like leaving their homes.
2. Water aerobics
If you have access to a pool, then you're in luck! Another one of our favorite workouts for seniors is water aerobics.
The great thing about the water is that it supports the body and puts less stress on the joints. Water aerobics improves the cardiovascular system and builds strength because the water's resistance activates the muscles.
Another thing that we love about it is that it increases mobility, flexibility, and balance. Because gravity's impact is less in water, seniors can get a greater range of motion in all of the exercises.
You also don't have to worry about overheating in the cool water. That means you can work out for longer.
And on top of all of that, water aerobics is super fun!
3. Senior Pilates
Pilates and yoga are both excellent workouts for seniors. While they are definitely similar, there are some notable differences too.
Senior Pilates can be done with or without equipment. For people who are isolated at home, Pilates is one of the best workouts for seniors because it's easy to do, and it doesn't take up a lot of time. Seniors can improve strength, mobility, flexibility, endurance, and coordination by doing just 10 minutes of Pilates a day.
Another thing that we love about Pilates is that it helps with balance. Balance tends to be a weakness for many people as they age, leading to accidents and falls. But Pilates can help with that. It also balances both the large and small muscle groups in the body.
Senior Pilates focuses on building core strength. That's important because we need a strong core to do everyday tasks and movements. Having a strong core improves posture and puts the aging body into proper alignment too.
- Nikky Smedley (Director) - Liz Chandler (Writer) - Liz Chandler (Producer)
- Improve your balance
- Build your bone density
- Align your body
When you're looking for the best workouts for seniors, you should find modifiable exercises. Slow progressions and modified movements are the way to go, especially for seniors who are new to working out. That makes Pilates one of the best options.
With all of the workouts for seniors that we're going over today, it's important that older people listen to their bodies. All of the movements in Pilates are deliberate. They should feel challenging, but they shouldn't cause any significant pain.
4. Senior yoga
Many different types of yoga are beneficial to health and overall wellbeing. Senior yoga is one of our favorites because it connects the body with the mind and spirit, it's gentle, and you can do it at any fitness level.
One of the concerns for aging adults is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become weak and brittle. Senior yoga is beneficial because it actually strengthens the bones and can help prevent this disease.
- 3 complete practices to meet the varying needs and abilities of seniors
- Improve strength, flexibiilty, balance, range of motion, joint health and overall well-being
- Filmed in the beautiful flower gardens of the Bibler Mansion
- 9 completely different practices, each 8 - 31 minutes long. A great value, providing over 3 hours worth of the most...
- Includes the best traditional exercises, a tai chi program specifically developed to improve balance in older adults,...
- All movements taught in mirror image with clear, easy-to-follow instructions and demonstrations.
Of all of the workouts for seniors that we're going over today, senior yoga is the best for stress reduction. It's very relaxing and helps with reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and lowering heart rate.
And that's not all.
Senior yoga also improves sleeping habits. Many seniors have difficulty sleeping as they age. But people who practice yoga report sleeping deeper and longer.
Just like with Pilates, yoga improves balance, stability, mobility, flexibility, and overall strength. It's also an excellent way to reduce the aches and pains that come with aging.
All of the workouts for seniors on our list will help to decrease depression. But yoga is likely the best for isolated seniors who are battling depression and loneliness. It's a natural mood booster. Yoga combines movement with deep breathing and meditation, which all improve overall well-being.
If you are working with a senior who is brand new to exercise or who has taken a long break from it, the best type to start with is Hatha yoga. It's very gentle and slow.
5. Chair yoga
Yoga really is great for seniors at any fitness level. You can even do it in a chair!
Chair yoga is an adaptive practice that's perfect for seniors who have limited mobility. It's basically a modified version of Hatha yoga that you do in a chair.
All of the incredible benefits that we talked about in regular senior yoga also apply to chair yoga. From a seated position, you move your body through flows of motion that increase strength and flexibility.
Not only does it increase the range of motion, but it also teaches pranayamas, which are relaxing stress-reducing breathing techniques. And it incorporates meditation and creates spatial awareness.
If you are working with seniors who suffer from conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or osteoporosis, chair yoga is an ideal workout. It will also benefit seniors who have trouble getting up and down from the floor.
The chair helps keep you stabilized as you move through the poses, and it provides extra support. And most senior yoga postures can be adapted to do in a chair.
Just like regular yoga, chair yoga is a mind-body experience that will improve mood and decrease depression.
6. Resistance training
While we're talking about the best workouts for seniors, we can't forget about strength training. A natural part of aging is that we lose muscle, and the bones get weaker. The best way to combat those two problems is to do resistance training.
Now that doesn't mean that you have to go to the gym and push around a bunch of heavy dumbbells. You can actually get strength training benefits by doing exercises using just your body weight for resistance. Another great option is using resistance bands.
Resistance bands replace the weights. They build and tone muscle and help to strengthen the bones.
Whether you use your body weight or resistance bands, there are several amazing benefits to strength training. Some of those include:
- Reduced symptoms of back pain, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis
- Reduced depression
- Weight management
- Improved balance and posture
- Improved sleep
- Increased metabolism
- Improved glucose control
- Increased strength and muscle mass
- Increased bone density
If you're working with seniors who are new to working out or who have taken a long break, be sure to start slow with strength training. Just 10 to 15 minutes on the first day is plenty. Even with that short amount of time, they may feel it in their muscles the next day. Feeling a little sore after a workout is perfectly normal.
And it's worth noting that it takes longer to recover as we get older. The soreness, though, will decrease as you get stronger. Seniors will get the most benefit from resistance training if they do it three to four times per week. But it would be best if you waited until the soreness has gone away before you go for your next workout.
The Bottom Line About Workouts for Seniors
All six of the workouts for seniors that we went over today are effective and fun. So why choose just one?
Seniors will see the most benefits by doing some type of exercise at least three times a week. For those who have taken a long break or maybe who've never worked out before, adding variety by mixing up the workouts is the best way to improve mood and overall health. We call that cross-training.
That means you can take a walk on Monday, do some chair yoga on Wednesday, and have some fun with water aerobics on Friday. Not only will training this way prevent boredom, but it will also make you less likely to get injured. And on top of that, it also makes the workouts way more fun!
So don't let the seniors in your life suffer from depression. Introduce them to the wonderful world of exercise, and you'll both feel better.
Last update on 2021-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API