Staying active is important at any age! For older adults, it adds to strength and flexibility and helps them remain mobile. Regular exercise can also help improve quality of sleep, as well as confidence and overall well-being. Physical activity falls into various categories that help your senior stay fit as they enjoy their Golden Years: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The best exercise and fitness for seniors cover one or more of these categories.

Five ways to help your senior stay fit and active

Since part of your role as a Pal may be helping your elderly companion find ways to exercise, it can help to have a few activities for seniors up your sleeve. Any of the following can be great choices:

  1. Walking or rolling. One of the most popular endurance activities for seniors (that also helps with balance) is taking a walk. If your senior needs adaptive equipment, such as a walker, this activity is still within reasonable limits. The beauty of taking a walk is your senior gets outside to breathe fresh air. You can travel together to beautiful surroundings, such as a park or nature preserve, and enjoy the scenery as you stroll.
  2. Going to a gym. Fitness center memberships are open to everyone. They feature a variety of strength-building machines, plus treadmills, hand weights and sometimes pools. Some gyms even offer classes specially tailored to senior fitness. Check to see what’s available in your area and work with your senior and their family to determine what they may be interested in. The great part about using a gym is you don’t need to worry about the weather—it’s always the same temperature inside!
  3. Hand weights and resistance bands. These are easily transported and come in a range of styles and pounds, so you can match the right weights to your senior’s needs. Check out these weight lifting ideas from the National Institute on Aging—complete with photos and descriptions. Your elderly companion can do many of these exercises in a seated position if they have trouble standing.
  4. Tai Chi. If you have classes available in your area, this ancient martial art helps improve balance, bone and heart health, and pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. If your senior feels unsteady, they can always participate in Tai Chi with a sturdy chair nearby for support.
  5. An important final activity for any workout, stretching also helps your senior’s flexibility. As with all fitness, it’s important to maintain the proper form to prevent injury. You can find a variety of stretches by visiting the National Institute on Aging online.

Fun is an important ingredient

One of the most important aspects of sticking with a fitness plan is choosing something your senior enjoys. Just like you may interact with your own grandparent, it is important to choose activities you both will enjoy participating in.

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