Active Seniors Should Consider These Exercise Modifications
As we age, it becomes more important than ever to keep our bodies as healthy as possible through a balanced diet and exercise. But the problem many active older adults face is that the exercises they once did may not be safe for them to do anymore. Luckily, most forms of exercise can be modified to fit a senior’s lifestyle, so even if your powerlifting or marathon-running days are behind you, you can still keep up your strength and endurance. Here are a few exercise modifications to consider as you age.
Running —> Walking
Running is one of the most effective and popular forms of exercise; it requires little to no equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere. But every time you take a stride, you land with a force equivalent to three or four times your bodyweight. That impact can cause real damage to seniors, especially those with knee, ankle or back problems. The good news? Though you might not get exactly the same sweat walking as you would get on a run, studies have shown that moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running result in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. Another plus? Walking can get you anywhere running can, as long as you have the time.
Biking —> Stationary Cycling
Cycling is another great low-impact cardio workout that can replace running in a senior’s exercise regimen. But for many seniors who struggle with balance issues, hopping on a two-wheeler and taking off on asphalt may have more risks than benefits. That’s where stationary bikes, which pretty much every gym in the country has, come in. You can adjust the resistance to your preference, and some machines even have a screen where you can watch as you cycle “through” different landscapes.
Weight Lifting —> Bodyweight Workouts
For weightlifters of any age, there is always a risk of injury, but for seniors, the risk is even greater. As muscles atrophy and joint pain increases, seniors should consider modifying their lifting routine to use lighter weights, resistance bands, or, believe it or not, no weight at all. Bodyweight workouts often work several muscle groups at the same time, combine cardio and strength training, and, like walking, require very little equipment. Some bodyweight exercises include chair squats, wall pushups, leg lifts and step ups.
Swimming —> Swimming
If you love to swim, you’re in luck. Swimming is something you don’t have to give up as you grow older, because, like cycling, it’s very low-impact. The water reduces the effects of gravity so that you don’t have to push your bones or joints too hard in order to get a workout. Water-lovers can also look into water aerobics classes, which often involve bodyweight workouts amplified by the resistance the water provides.