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You’ve probably heard of the benefits of strength training for older adults, as it helps to fight off bone and muscle loss as you age. But do you know the benefits of aerobic activity for older adults?
Aerobic activity keeps your cardiovascular system strong, including your lungs and your heart. It also encourages blood flow, improving your circulation and even giving your brain a boost. Exercise physically tires you out, which helps you to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, ultimately increasing your energy levels during the day. Certain kinds of workouts can help you improve your balance, which reduces your chances of tripping and falling. Exercise also keeps you strong and helps maintain your independence for longer, which is something that most seniors are actively working towards. If you’re not regularly incorporating aerobic exercise into your weekly routine, then you definitely should be!
Before doing any kind of exercise, aerobic or otherwise, you should always clear it with your doctor first. You also need to make sure that you are wearing sturdy, supportive exercise shoes that fit well, in addition to adaptive clothing that will move with you during your workout.
If you’re not sure how to get started with cardio exercise, here are five of our favorite aerobic exercises for seniors:
If you are new to aerobic exercise, some power walking is the best way to keep your heart rate up and begin to build your cardiovascular stamina. You should walk at a speed that gets your heart rate pumping and makes you breathe a bit faster, but you should still be able to talk with ease. If you want to take up the intensity, you can carry small hand weights (one to three pounds) and pump your arms as you walk. Make sure to keep your eyes on the ground to watch for obstacles or tripping hazards.
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One of the issues with finding aerobic activities for older adults is that many of them are high impact and thus hard on your joints. Thankfully, swimming is the opposite. The water cushions your joints and doesn’t put any pressure on them at all. Swimming laps is also a major full body cardio workout that will get your heart pumping quickly. If you are comfortable in the water and have the lung capacity for it, swimming is an excellent aerobic activity for seniors.
If you want to get into the water, but swimming laps isn’t really your thing, then you should consider water aerobics instead. Water aerobics classes feature coordinated movements set to music that will get your heart rate up while you have fun. The instructor may also have you use foam props to add resistance and work your body even more. This is such a popular activity that some gyms and pools offer water aerobics classes specifically for seniors, so see if your local facility has one that you can attend.
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Zumba, a.k.a. Dance Cardio
If the idea of aerobics classes appeals to you, but you’re not a fan of getting in the pool, then you should definitely check out Zumba classes at your local gym. These classes combine different styles of dance and put a cardio twist on them to get your heart pumping. You do need a certain level of coordination for these classes, and you need to watch where you step so you don’t accidentally trip over your own feet. But if you’re feeling up for it, Zumba is exercise that doesn’t even feel like working out.
Yes, Pilates will work your balance and core muscles, but it will also get your heart rate up. Because Pilates works the entire body, you will find your heart rate speeding up during your workout. Pilates is also low impact, making it an excellent choice for seniors so they don’t have to stress their joints. If you are new to Pilates, seek out a class specifically designed for beginners or seniors. All the props and special moves may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll quickly become a pro in no time.
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