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Exercise Tips for Seniors

November 29th, 2012 Healthy Living

Exercise is incredibly important, no matter how old you may be. Keeping active will help ensure a longer and healthier life - an active senior is a happy one! According to the National Institutes of Health, regular exercise can help delay the onset of diabetes and heart conditions and help reduce pain from arthritis, as well as minimize depression and anxiety. There are plenty of reasons to exercise regularly, but as a senior citizen, you may be wondering what activities might be more suitable. Overly strenuous exertion may cause more harm than good, so you have to be careful about what exercises you decide to do.

The NIH explains that there are four types of physical activity that everyone needs: endurance, strengthening, stretching and balance. There are plenty of exercises in every category that are perfect for seniors. Here's a breakdown of each activity's benefits and a few basic exercises that are suitable for seniors.

1. Endurance. Endurance activities are typically what come to mind when you think of cardio and aerobics - including walking, jogging, swimming and jumping jacks, to name a few. They help strengthen your heart, improving your cardiovascular health. Your circulatory system also benefits from regular endurance exercises.

You should start simple when you begin these exercises, even it means as little as five minutes a day at the beginning. Eventually, you're going to want to work your way up to at least 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio every single day. The National Institute on Aging notes that you won't receive much benefit to your heart and lungs if you don't perform at least 10 minutes of exercise at a time.

Finding endurance activities to do is easy. Go for a walk each morning. If your legs are in good shape, you could start taking the stairs instead of the elevator from time to time. Just don't push yourself too hard. At the end of your routine, you should be breathing harder but still capable of carrying a conversation.

2. Strength. These are exercises that build muscle tissue, which can reduce age-related weakness. The goal is simply to build a decent amount of strength throughout your body, which will improve your overall quality of life - you'll have a much easier time performing basic tasks like carrying your groceries or getting up from a chair. You may want to consider picking up a pair of light dumbbells.

As far as what exercises to do, try to work all of your main muscle groups. Arm curls, side arm raises, back leg raises and toe stands should be your main area of focus. Try to perform eight to 15 repetitions of each exercise, but don't push yourself too hard. Once again, you can build up to these numbers over a period of time.

3. Balance. More than one-third of people above the age of 65 fall each year, according to the NIH. It's harder to maintain balance as you get older, but a nasty spill can have serious health implications. This is why regular balance exercises are incredibly important.

Have a sturdy chair nearby and try balancing on one foot, alternating every 10 seconds or so. Try to do this about 10 times. When you feel ready, let go of the chair, but hover your hand over it in case you quickly need to regain your balance.

4. Stretching. Keep yourself flexible! Try doing stretch exercises every single day. Try and work all parts of your body, starting with your neck and working down to your calves. When working on your legs, either sit down or balance yourself on a chair, just to make sure you don't fall over.