Health and fitness are major concerns for most seniors, usually because they’ve spent decades ignoring those topics. If that includes YOU, at what age did you decide your fitness level wasn’t a priority? Fortunately in most cases it’s not too late – you can start taking back your health and fitness at any age!
From treadmills to exercise machines to free weight areas, more and more people over 60 are turning up regularly at gyms and working out regularly. Most marathons these days have athletes 60 and older joining them, and the half-marathons see even more seniors taking part. And golf courses, tennis courts and squash courts are often populated with seniors, both for their enjoyment and to help them get and stay fit.
But if your physical condition isn’t up to extreme senior sports, the good news is you can start much more simply. Health and fitness require proper exercise, nutrition and sufficient rest to recover fully. But seniors don’t need to jump into major changes to improve their lives – even small changes add up over time.
What’s your current activity level? If the bulk of your exercise is walking from your couch to the bathroom, taking a walk around the block each day would be a good start. If mobility isn’t an issue for you, how long has it been since you rode a bike regularly? If mobility is an issue, instead think about modest exercise – there are plenty of bodyweight exercises and stretches you can do at home without lifting weights.
Or maybe simple, no-impact exercises like yoga or Tai Chi would suit you better. Each can be performed at a very basic level by almost any senior, and you can increase your level as your body adapts. You don’t even need to join a class for either – there are plenty of online videos or DVDs available that you can follow along with at home. Once again, no equipment is necessary to get started…
Does your community have recreation centers? If they have a pool there you can easily enjoy yourself while working on your fitness level, and many have in-pool exercise classes for seniors as well. Any nervousness you feel about starting to exercise in front of others will most likely fade quickly as you experience the social benefits of exercising with other seniors from your local community. Socializing with a group of like-minded peers your own age will also help you stick with it and heighten your sense of accomplishment as you advance.
And remember, when you’re physically ready, the gym is always going to be there to welcome you! If you want to start lifting weights at home, it’s as easy as starting off with a pair of dumbbells bought at your local sports store or department store. If you’re feeling more adventurous, talk to the manager at any local gyms – more and more personal trainers are taking special training in working with seniors (thanks to the large baby-boomer demographics), and it will certainly help you get started on the right path if you hire one for at least your first few gym sessions. When lifting weights it’s best to start with shorter, lighter workouts and progress from there – you’re going to be asking your body to move and stretch in unfamiliar ways, so don’t overdo it in the early stages.