Importance of Senior Exercise

By: Jessica Porritt, Wellness Director, YMCA of Central Florida (Roper Y)

National Senior Health & Fitness Day is May 29 and it’s time to get moving! As we age, it is important to stay active and take care of our health and well-being.  Exercise is an important part of that for everyone, especially older, active adults, as it helps with maintaining strength and balance, and improves fall prevention; while reducing the risk of chronic diseases. So, how are you staying active? The Roper YMCA has many activities that are geared to our older, active-adult population, but here’s a way for you to get started at home!

5 Simple Exercises!

To start, there are 5 simple exercises that you can do as an older, active adult, that includes:

  • Sit to Stands – The ability to stand up from a chair makes a huge difference in everyday life for older, active adults. It helps with essential activities like getting up from the toilet, out of bed, and out of a chair. That’s why the sit-to-stand exercise is probably the best of the mobility exercises for adults.
  • Wall Push-ups – Wall push-ups are perfect for an older, active adult, but all levels benefit from this exercise. Wall push-ups are also a good choice if you want to strengthen the chest, but have back problems, because they put no stress on your spine.
  • Wall Slides – Wall slides increase your shoulder mobility and flexibility. This exercise is great for older active adults as we tend to be tight in our shoulders. To perform you will start by stand with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder width-apart. You buttocks and shoulder blades should be touching the wall. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and raise them out to the sides so your hands (palms facing out) are at shoulder height. Keeping your arms pressed into the wall, lower your elbows as far as possible. Hold for a second, squeezing your shoulder blades together, then slide your arms up the wall as high as they will go without losing contact with the wall. When you start to lose contact, bring your arms back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 8 to 10.
  • One-Leg Balance Reaches – Stand with feet pointed straight ahead, placed hip-width apart. Lift your chest and tuck in your chin. Draw-in your belly button and squeeze your butt. Balance on one leg and lift the other directly beside it. Extend and point the lifted leg and toe to the side of your body, keeping your hips facing forward and level. Hold this position for a few seconds then return the lifted leg to the starting position and repeat.
  • Walking – Walking is a perfect way to start exercising. It requires no special equipment, aside from a pair of comfortable walking shoes, and can be done anywhere.

Staying Active

Staying active is so important for improved health. The Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans emphasizes plenty of benefits that come from physical activity. New evidence also shows that physical activity has immediate health benefits, such as reduced anxiety, improved quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, keeping up with physical activity consistently has even more long-term health benefits, like improved cognition, bone health, and fitness and heart health. It can also reduce the risk of depression. Others include: prevention of 8 types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung) and reduces the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease). So, keeping daily activity can improve your overall health and quality of life! Want even more info? Check out the Top 10 Things to Know About the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Another great way to get moving is by joining the Mall Walkers at West Oaks Mall. The Mall Walkers Program is a great way to stay active, meet new friends,  and walk in an air-conditioned environment to stay cool and safe. Monthly breakfasts are on the 2nd Tuesday of each month and recognition is given for laps completed! Also, at the Roper YMCA, there are many classes that can help older, active adults get moving and grooving. Getting active as a group has positive effects and can also make the time go by faster, while at the same time improving your health and well-being and maybe meeting some new friends along the way. Remember: Exercise can start at any age!

About the Author

Jessica Porritt specializes in working with special populations: cardiac, diabetic, and cancer clients, as well as, Health Seekers looking to make a lifestyle change at the YMCA of Central Florida (Roper Y). She is also an AAFA Certified Group Exercise Instructor and Personal Trainer, Coach Approach Certified, and has a BS in Health Fitness in Preventive and Rehabilitative Programs from Central Michigan University.

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