As people grow older, their lives tend to slow down. They no longer have children to raise or full-time jobs to go to every day, and they may even have downsized from the family home to an apartment or condo. But that doesn’t mean they should become completely inactive. Here are some reasons why it’s important to keep your senior loved ones active and some ideas of things to do and places to go. Always keep in mind that in order to keep your senior safe, be sure they check in with their doctor before starting any new type of exercise or increasing the intensity level of a current routine."
The Benefits of Staying Active Later in Life
Being active later in life provides many of the same benefits as being active earlier in life. It can improve a person’s mood and lower their risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, certain cancers. It can increase strength, mobility, and bone density, and promote healing, all of which become even more important later in life. Those who become sedentary as they age may be unsteady on their feet and have difficulty breathing and poor blood flow.
Safe Exercise for Seniors
Seniors may not be able to exercise the way they used to, but there are many safe ways for them to get some exercise in on a regular basis. Many senior centers, assisted living facilities, libraries, and parks and recreation departments offer gentle yoga. Yoga can be altered to fit any fitness level – including doing the entire session while seated in a chair – and it helps keep joints and muscles flexible and strong without much physical exertion. Although not as readily available, water aerobics is a great way to get a little more of an aerobic workout without putting undue stress on joints and bones.
Take a Walk Somewhere New
Walking is the easiest, most cost-effective type of exercise for someone of any age. It can be done virtually anywhere and at any pace. To make walking more interesting, go somewhere different instead of treading the same path every time. Places to walk that provide mental stimulation and a relatively flat surface include:
· Public gardens and conservatories
· Art or natural history museums (many of which are free)
· Indoor or outdoor shopping malls
· Local craft fairs or art festivals
· Guided factory tours
· Public libraries (many have special exhibits to view as well as books and magazines)
Fun Things to Do That Require Less Walking
If your loved one cannot walk long distances, there are many activities that require minimal walking, but still give them an opportunity to move a little bit and maybe experience something new.
Train or boat ride – These types of excursions can be great for seniors because they can walk to the boat or train, then rest while they enjoy the ride. Many of these trips are just for a couple hours or half a day and may include lunch or dinner.
New restaurant – You can exercise your senior’s taste buds too by taking them to a new restaurant. It can serve food they’re familiar with, but with a twist, or you can introduce them to a completely new type of cuisine. For a little more exercise, take a stroll through the neighborhood after dinner or walk to a local ice cream shop.
Movie theater – Walking from the car to the theater and back can provide some easy exercise with a nice long, entertaining break in between.
Don’t let your senior loved one’s life come to a standstill, encourage them to seek out exercise and incorporate some movement in the time you spend together.