Senior Citizens are more concerned about fitness today than ever before. Senior fitness has become a major industry. People over 65 are looking for activities that are heathy, safe and consistently fun. From cross-country skiing to balance exercises for seniors, baby boomers are trying to get fit.
In an article about senior fitness, WebMD states, “While today’s seniors were growing up, fitness wasn’t what it is today. The biggest issue is trying to get them to start with a fitness program that combines cardio, strength training, and balance.”
Work or education was the focus for many of today’s seniors growing up in the 60’s. The appearance of all types of home fitness equipment occurred in the mid-80’s. As a result of aging baby boomers, senior fitness has become a growing industry. Magazines and articles about senior fitness are seen everywhere.
Livingstrong.com points out that Jack Lalane invented several kinds of fitness machines in the 50’s. These did not catch on, outside the gym, for almost 30 years. Weight training was for body builders and “muscle heads.” Today senior fitness is on the minds of about 20% of the population in the U.S.
WebMd proclaims, “People in their 70s and 80s can benefit when they start to exercise — as long as they do it safely.”
Exercise for Seniors
There are lots of ways to fit walking into your day. Going on a hike in a county park can be a great way to get exercise and enjoy nature. A consistent daily stroll around the neighborhood is an easy thing to fit into anyone’s schedule. A walk is great for your dog as well as for you.
If there is a school near you, the track is a great place to walk daily. You can easily measure how far you have walked. You don’t have to worry about traffic. Tracks are usually not congested.
If the distance is not too great, why not walk to the store to pick up a few small items forgotten on the shopping trip. Walk to a friend’s home where they can join you. If you walk in a large circle, your friend can drop you off at home and continue on. How about a day at a theme park with grandchildren. As a result of any kind of walking, you will feel better.
Its not enough to relax by a lake, get in the water. Swimming is a great exercise for seniors because it provides a great cardio workout without any impact to joints. Join a fitness club that has a pool. If you can’t swim, walking in the water is provides cardio, strength training and balance practice. Unless you have access to an indoor pool, swimming provides seasonal exercise.
Any kind of dancing will do. There are square dancing clubs. Line dancing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its fun. Most towns have a dance studio somewhere. Because classes are usually inexpensive, a regular night out dancing can be part of a weekly workout routine. Maybe you could chaperone a high school dance. Now that’s a work out.
Everyone has a bike in the garage. Wiped off the dust. Oil the chain and sprockets. Inflate the tires. Bikes are a fun way to see town or country and exercise at the same time. There are cruisers, mountain bikes, racing bikes and tricycles. There are one speed bikes with foot brakes and bikes with hand brakes and variable speeds. Grab a helmet and set off for a fun ride near or far. Don’t run errands in your car. Ride your bike.
Mowing the lawn is purely walking. The bending,stretching and lifting of gardening is great for joints, core and back muscles. Prune shrubs and trees provides a resistance workout. Spreading dirt or mulch is a great cardio exercise.
Heavier tasks like digging trenches or laying pavers is similar to a gym work out. Seniors with beautiful yards are probably getting lots of exercise.
What sport do you enjoy playing. Alternatively, what sport would you like to try. There is bowling, basketball, softball and baseball. Broom ball is becoming popular with the “I don’t want to be hit with a hockey puck” set. Tennis requires little equipment. Almost every town has public tennis courts. Golf with friends can be a great way to exercise on a regular basis.
All you have to do is go to a ball park or school athletic field to find seniors competing at some sport and maintaining their health.
Fitness can suffer as a result of winter. Its nice to stay indoors and do indoor things. With the proper clothing and equipment, exercise in the winter can be fun.
Seniortv.com observes that, “Seniors who enjoy being outdoors, can participate in winter sports. Ice-skating can be a fun way to stay in shape. Snow sledding, skiing, and snowboarding can also be calorie burning activities. Even a walk down the street if the weather conditions allow it can work. Caution should be taken to prevent accidents and injuries while playing in the snow.
Have a snowball fight with your neighbor. Build a snowman with your grandchildren. Clear your sidewalks. Turn winter into fun.
Seniors at the Gym
Small, boutique like gyms that cater to seniors are bursting at the seams according to USA Today. As a result, entrepreneurs setting up new gyms to cash in on this trend. Established gyms are dropping rates to fill low use times due to younger member’s work schedules .
Fitness on nbcnews.com reports that, “It’s not only the growing number of retirees and their spending power — it’s also their schedule. In the late morning and early afternoon, when most gyms are nearly empty, those that are popular among the gray-haired set are bustling.”
Why a Gym?
A Planetfitness.com headline declares, “New survey finds people over 60 who exercise weekly feel more than a decade younger than their actual age” It seems like this is the motivating factor for most seniors with gym memberships.
For the most part, seniors want:
- low impact cardio equipment that’s easy on the back and joints.
- resistance machines with accurate weight measurements and smooth action.
- trainers who understand intensity and duration for floor exercising.
- areas for competitive sports with friends.
- acceptance from other members and staff.
Tips for Joining a Gym
- Check to see if your local gym offers the equipment and activities you need.
- Find out if there is a special senior membership rate.
- Make sure you feel comfortable in the facility.
- Make sure the facility is clean with well maintained equipment.
- Talk with staff about the personal trainers.
- Find out when most seniors are at the facility.
- Visit the floor classes to see which ones are appropriate for you.
- Ask for a visitor’s pass to give the gym a test run before you gym.
Because there are lots of ways for you to stay fit, you should never be bored. Walking or biking out in the community is a great way to spend time on a beautiful day. Swimming at the local lake or pool provides good cardio. Resistance training or floor classes at the gym can connect you with other seniors.
Take a moment to share your thoughts about this page in the comment section below. Do you belong to a gym? What is your favorite type of exercise? How much time weekly do exercise?