Exercise Tips For Seniors: How to Stay Fit and Healthy As You Get Older

While you may not feel quite as energetic or flexible as you did in your twenties, maintaining a regular exercise routine into your 50s, 60s and 70s can have a significantly positive effect on both your physical and mental health.

However, issues such as muscle tightness and weaker bones as you age can make you more susceptible to exercise-related injuries. In order to enjoy the many benefits of exercise without pain or discomfort, check out our practical tips for exercising safely in your senior years.

Why is it important to stay active as you age?

Studies have shown that engaging in regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of a number of diseases and health conditions, including heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain types of cancers, depression, and dementia.

In addition, exercise can assist with weight management, improve bone health, and even help to reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.

Fitness tips for seniors: Reducing the risk of exercise injuries

1. Never skip the warm-up

Warming up your muscles prior to engaging in physical activity is an important step in minimising your chance of injury and soreness, especially in your senior years. Take 5-10 minutes to do some gentle stretches or low-intensity movement on a stationary bike or elliptical machine before you start your workout.

2. Wear the right exercise attire

While you may not be too fussed about sporting the latest workout fashion, ensuring your clothes and shoes are comfortable and designed for the type of activity you’re undertaking can help to avoid pain and injury as you get older. Supportive footwear in particular will provide your feet with the cushioning they need to minimise impact damage.

3. Opt for low-impact exercises

As we age, our bones and joints – particularly our knees – become more susceptible to strains and injuries. For this reason, it’s best to choose lower-impact activities such as walking or swimming, which will place less pressure on the joints compared with high-intensity exercises.

4. Be mindful of pain and discomfort

Although it’s normal to feel a little soreness after exercising, it’s crucial to listen to your body and address any persistent pain or discomfort. For example, muscle pain that lasts for more than a week or joint pain that persists for more than a couple of days may require further treatment, so it’s important to get these professionally examined.

5. Stretch regularly

As your body gets older, your muscles naturally lose their flexibility and become less limber. By engaging in a regular stretching routine, you can help to reduce the risk of tendon tears and other muscular injuries. Yoga or pilates are both great exercise options to keep muscles flexible and injury-free.

What type of exercise is best for seniors?

Now you know how to approach your exercise routine, what kind of activity is best as you get older? Here are some fantastic options which will keep you fit and healthy without putting your body under too much stress:

  • Walking: Use a treadmill in the gym or get outside in the fresh air and enjoy this gentle yet effective exercise.
  • Swimming: Whether in your local pool or the ocean, swimming is a great low-impact exercise option that’s ideal for seniors.
  • Strength training: Lifting weights or using weight machines 2-3 times per week can help to improve muscle tone and bone density.
  • Dancing: A fun way to get moving, dancing can be an enjoyable exercise to keep fit and lose weight. Find a group class such as Zumba or simply have fun in your own home!
  • Tai Chi: This ancient Chinese martial art is a popular exercise choice that’s suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Your GP will be able to advise on safe options for exercise based on your age, physical health, current medications, and any pre-existing conditions such as lung disease or heart issues.

You may also benefit from working with a certified personal trainer who can tailor a fitness program to suit your age and help you enjoy the benefits of exercise safely.

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New To Running? Top Running Tips For Beginners

As well as being a hugely popular pastime, running is also an incredibly effective form of physical activity – in fact, it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise.

Not only are the health benefits of running plentiful – from helping with weight management to reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke – it’s also a no-cost activity that you can do practically anywhere.

If you’re new to running, this beginner’s guide will help you ‘find your feet’ safely and get the most out of this fun and healthy activity.

What to consider before you start running

Build up gradually

When you’re just starting out with running, it’s important to take things slowly by gradually increasing your pace and distance over time. To begin with, walk for a distance that feels comfortable, then start alternating between running and walking.

Once you feel ready, you can increase the running intervals until you’re running for most of your session. This gradual approach will help to reduce the risk of injury and allow you to ease into the experience of running.

Get the right running gear

This isn’t just about looking good on your run! The correct running attire will help to ensure you have the support you need and feel comfortable during your training.

A good pair of running shoes will help to protect your feet by absorbing the impact, while a quality sports bra for women will provide additional support during your run.

Create a running plan

Planning your runs in advance will make it easier to stick to your goals and progress over time, as well as helping you build a solid routine for your running.

Before you start out, decide on the location of your run, the route you’ll take, and how long you’ll allocate to each run. By making a note of these details, you’ll have a clear plan that you can adhere to during your session.

Tips for a successful run

Always include a warm-up and cool-down

Applicable to beginner runners and experienced runners alike, an effective warm-up and cool-down routine incorporating gentle stretches for your leg muscles will help to minimise your risk of injury as well as prevent muscle soreness.

Before you begin each run, spend around five minutes on some warm-up exercises, such as fast walking, on-the-spot marching, knee lifts or stair climbs. At the end of your run, slow your pace to a gentle walk until your heart rate stabilises, then stretch out your leg muscles.

Check your running form

Not only will the correct running form help you to develop a faster pace, but you’ll also be less likely to injure yourself.

You should run with your elbows gently bent and ensure your arms and shoulders aren’t too stiff. Maintain an upright posture and keep your running stride smooth and even, hitting the ground with the heel first, followed by the toes.

Listen to your body

Running can place strain on joints such as the knees as well as the leg muscles. It’s important to address any pain or discomfort sooner rather than later to avoid minor issues becoming more complex health problems.

Starting slowly and alternating running with walking when you’re a beginner will allow you to build up an effective running technique and avoid injury.

How to stay motivated with running

Find a running buddy

Having a running partner who keeps you accountable can be a great way to stick to your running goals and push yourself to show up to your training sessions. They can also make it more fun!

It’s a good idea to find someone with roughly the same level of running ability as you, so you can both match each other’s pace and motivate each other to progress.

Create realistic goals

Having clear milestones for your running journey can help to keep you focused and inspired to stick with your training. However, it’s important to ensure these goals are realistic and achievable.

A training goal such as a specific race or charity run can be a fantastic way to keep you motivated and give you something to aim for during your running sessions.

Map your progress

Setting goals is one thing, but keeping track of your running progress makes it even more likely that you’ll stay committed to achieving them.

Keeping a running diary or using a running app to record the details of each run – such as your route, distance, time, weather conditions, and how you felt – can help you to map your progress over time and track your improvements, which is a great way to stay motivated.

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5 Ways to Stay Active and Healthy When Working At Your Desk

Did you know that your desk job could be bad for your health? Unfortunately for most of us, research shows that long periods of sitting can lead to a wide range of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, muscle pain, and mental stress.

However, if your work requires you to sit at a desk for long periods, you’ll be relieved to know that there are a number of simple actions you can take to reduce the negative impact of sitting at work.

Follow our practical tips to boost your work health and improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

1. Stand up regularly

Much has been published in recent years about the health benefits of standing vs. sitting when working. The science-backed advantages of working standing up include reducing the risk of heart disease and obesity, lowering blood sugar levels, minimising back pain, and even boosting your mood and energy levels.

Standing desks can be a great way to ensure you’re on your feet while remaining productive. However, if you don’t have access to a standing desk, make a conscious effort to work while standing where possible – for example, while taking a call or conversing with a colleague.

2. Take movement breaks

A study in the journal Nature revealed that sitting for long periods of time increased the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as well as causing weight gain. What’s more, a different study found that vascular function is impaired after six hours of sitting.

To reduce your risk of health issues, it’s crucial to get up and move around as often as possible, which will help to improve blood flow and reduce muscle fatigue. This might involve taking ‘walking’ phone calls, using gaps between meetings to fit in a quick walk around the block, or moving away from your desk for a walk when coming up with creative ideas.

3. Perform stretching exercises

If you spend long hours at your desk, engaging in regular stretching can reduce the muscular pain associated with sedentary lifestyles by up to 72%, as well as minimise mental stress and fatigue.

There are a number of stretches you can perform while at your desk, making it possible for even the most time-poor among us to fit in a quick stretching session. Try a simple overhead stretch by clasping your hands together above your head, stretching your arms upwards, and holding for up to 30 seconds.

4. Get active on your lunch break

A study of over 1 million people revealed that engaging in physical activity for at least one hour per day actually eliminated the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8 hours daily, while those who were physically active for a total of four hours per week reduced their risk of experiencing mental health issues by around half.

Even if you have limited opportunity to move around while you’re working, using your lunch break as an opportunity to get active can provide a myriad of health benefits. Whether it’s a run in the park, a workout in the gym, or a swim in the ocean, finding ways to be physically active during your lunch hour is a great way of improving your health when working at a desk.

5. Optimise your work environment

While most of us spend the majority of our time sitting at a desk, relatively few people invest time and resources into ensuring their workplace ergonomics are set up for success. Altering your workspace can provide a range of benefits, from improving your posture to reducing strain on your neck, shoulders and eyes.

A few quick improvements you can make to your ergonomics include:

  • Ensuring your feet are resting on the floor or a footrest.
  • Adjusting your seat so that your legs and arms are parallel with the ground.
  • Positioning the top of the screen at your eye level, with a small upwards tilt of 10-20 degrees.
  • Avoiding sitting with your legs crossed, which can lead to muscle strain and reduced blood flow.

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