If you feel like you’re slowing down as you age, you’re definitely not alone. It seems like everything is getting harder to do which only causes your motivation to plummet. The key to getting your groove back is making exercise something that is enjoyable, attainable and easy enough that it doesn’t feel like a chore. With these fitness tips for seniors, you’ll learn how to make exercise enjoyable so you stick with it—and continue to age gracefully.
Why should you exercise?
If you don’t use it.. you lose it. The less active you are, the more muscle you lose—which causes you to lose strength, endurance and balance while also causing more aches & pains. Basically, you need muscle to keep your body functioning properly. The good news is that it can be as little as just 10 minutes a day—which is entirely manageable!
A small 10 minute commitment can…
- Maintain muscle mass
- Improve balance
- Increase strength & physical function
- Improve mood
- Increase overall fitness & health
- Decrease aches & pains
- Improve joint health & mobility
Common misconceptions about exercising as you age
- Decreasing physical abilities is a natural part of aging
It’s not. While we do lose a small amount of muscle as we age, big declines are not normal. Too often, small aches & pains cause us to stop doing as many activities. As we become less active, we’re not doing the things that help us maintain our muscles and so we start to lose them. The more we lose, the less we do and so we spiral into decreasing physical abilities. As long as we stay active and continue to use our bodies and muscles, we can maintain our abilities and live our golden years with a much higher quality of life.
- My balance is too poor to exercise safely
There are so many options for exercise that are safe for anyone with poor balance! Exercise doesn’t have to mean going for a 5 mile run. There are tons of chair-based classes that allow you to exercise while sitting in a chair or holding onto it for support—completely eliminating the risk of a fall. Like “15 Minute Chair Pilates” (Click Or Tap Here To Learn More)
- Exercise will make my aches & pains worse
Quite the opposite, actually. The important thing is to do exercises that meet your body where it’s at. There are workouts specifically designed to be gentle for older adults. By doing these you’ll gently rebuild your muscles which, in turn, will provide the support your body needs to function normally—and reduce your aches & pains!
Seniors fitness tips that actually work
1. Do What You Enjoy
This is one of the most important tips. When exercise is fun, it stops being something you “have to do” and you actually look forward to it. Here are a few ideas:
- Watch a favorite show while walking on the treadmill
- Get your cardio in by taking a fun dance class
- Play a sport (like pickleball, golf, etc)
2. Make Exercise Social
Everything is always better when you do it with someone. Not only is it more fun, but you’ll have the added support, encouragement & motivation of your friends or community. Here’s how you can make exercise social:
- Join a group fitness class
- Take a dance class
- Join a sports team
- Get a workout buddy
- Join an exercise community for older adults like the Better5 online community – To Join – Click Or Tap Here
3. Track Your Progress
By tracking your progress you get to see day by day, week by week, and month by month how much your life has improved because of exercise. The more you progress, the more motivated you’ll be to continue. Here’s a free health & fitness tracker you can download and print to keep you motivated & progressing:
4. Make Short Term Goals
This is so often overlooked and it can be the biggest reason why people fail to stick with their exercise routines. When you make big goals that take a long time to reach it can be very easy to get discouraged and quit when it seems like you’re so far away you’ll never get there. It’s much easier to reach short term goals. As you do, you’ll get that sense of accomplishment that keeps you going. And as long as you keep going… you WILL reach that big goal. By setting small, short-term goals, you’ll get there step-by-step.
5. Create A Routine
If you know you’re most likely to actually do your exercises if you do them in the morning, then make that your routine. You’ll get so used to doing them every day at the same time that eventually you won’t even think about it. You’ll just get up and do it because it’s a habit. Find a routine that works for you and your schedule and commit to it. You’ll be blown away by the results!
6. Take It Slow & Listen To Your Body
This is very important for older adults. Exercise is no longer about lifting the heaviest weights or going for the longest runs. Your goals are different now and so is how you exercise. Starting with just 10 minutes of exercise is the perfect way to get going. Slowly add time or resistance to your workouts as you get stronger & fitter. Doing too much, too fast can cause injury & setbacks that keep you from reaching your goals.
7. Include Strength Training
Don’t worry—this doesn’t mean bench pressing 200 pounds. Strength training can be as simple as doing bodyweight exercises, holding a couple of soup cans or using resistance bands. By adding just a couple pounds of resistance, you’ll build muscle at a much faster pace. Since your muscles are what keeps your body functioning it’s best, it’s important to include strengthening at least 2 times a week.
Not sure what to do or how to add strengthening into your routine? No worries! Just follow along with a strengthening program for older adults like “Full Body Resistance Band Exercises.”