The benefits and importance of exercising and regularly moving your body regardless of age are numerous. However, it becomes even more important as you grow older.  Some of the benefits of staying active include reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. If you have one of these chronic conditions or others such as arthritis or high cholesterol, exercise can help you manage these conditions so that they don’t advance or interfere with your life. According to the National Council on Aging, about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68% have at least two.

Additionally, exercise can help boost your mood, maintain a healthy weight, help you sleep better, as well as provide an opportunity to socialize and stay connected to others. 

What are the best exercises for seniors and how to start a routine:

Where to start? It’s always important to start slowly if you haven’t exercised regularly in awhile. The National Institutes of Health recommends focusing on four types of exercise for maximum health benefits. These include:

  1. Endurance: This type refers to an aerobic-type activity that gets your heart rate up, such as walking, dancing, swimming, biking, and gardening. 
  2. Strength: Keeping your muscles strong can help prevent falls and safely perform regular daily activities, such as carrying groceries or your grandchildren. Try weight-lifting or using resistance bands. 
  3. Balance: It’s no secret that falls pose a significant health risk for older adults and a chance of preventing aging in place. The CDC reports that more than one out of four older people falls each year. More than 95% of hip fractures. are caused by falling. Lower body strengthening exercises, Tai Chi, and simply balancing on one foot can help improve balance.  
  4. Flexibility: If you keep your body flexible, you’ll be limber enough to do the everyday activities with issues such as tying your shoes or picking things up off the floor. Stretching and yoga can also help prevent falls and other injuries.

What are some fitness and exercise resources for seniors in Colorado? 

Check out these resources to find home exercise programs or in-person classes for you or your loved one.

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Before starting an exercise routine, you or your loved one should consult a doctor to find out how much exercise you need, if it’s safe to start an exercise program, and what types of exercise you or your loved one should be doing, at least initially.

What precautions to take to prevent falls in older adults

More than one out of four older people fall each year. One out of five falls causes a severe injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. It’s not surprising to learn that 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries every year. 

You get the picture. You want to do everything you can to reduce the risk of falling for your loved one. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take. Here are a few of them:

  • Do leg strength and balance exercises
  • Have your eyes and prescription, if you wear glasses, checked every year
  • Make sure your home has plenty of lighting. Consider getting motion-detected lights.
  • Get of rugs or other objects that could cause you to fall or trip
  • Add grab bars to your shower and near your toilet
  • Make sure your stairs have railings on both sides. 

See Home Life for more tips on making your home safe and more comfortable.