The warmth and sunshine of summertime offers the perfect temptation for seniors to enjoy outdoor or water-based exercise, mixing fun with fitness. From light water sports to scenic adventures, seniors can increase cardiovascular function, widen range of motion and improve flexibility. Resist the urge to languish on the sofa enjoying indoor air conditioning; sedentary lifestyles can shave years off the life of seniors, causing them to lose muscle, bone density, brain function and overall health. Instead, try these satisfying summer activities.
When it comes to easy, minimum-impact exercises for senior citizens, swimming is one of the most beneficial choices. A 20-minute to 30-minute session filled with gentle breaststrokes or backstrokes and a light foot kick three times a week is enough to improve cardiovascular health for seniors while giving them the chance to cool off from summer heat in the local pool. On days when it’s too hot, indoor pools are also an option.
For seniors who love water but desire an alternative to swimming, taking a water aerobics course is a real treat. Instructors lead submerged participants in skiing motions, leg swings, arm lifts and pool walking. Sometimes light weights can be used. By moving aerobics to the water, seniors lower their risk of injury and reduce body stress. This workout leads to cardio benefits and better muscle tone.
Hit the walking trails in your town or city this summer; it will enable you to get exercise while witnessing beautiful scenery and wildlife. Take grandchildren and the family dog to make the trek more enjoyable. Walking is easy on joints, can be done at any speed and is a marvelous way to boost agility and remain mobile as you age. Just 30-minutes along a dirt-and-grass covered trail two times a week will work more muscles than walking on harder, flatter man-made surfaces. Seniors should avoid trails with too many rocks along the path, however, as such terrains can cause tripping and falling..
Seniors who want to have better posture, flexibility, strength and balance can use a Pilates chair on the patio or rear lawn to do 20 to 30 minutes of Pilates exercises outdoors. Even seniors who have limited mobility can safety use a Pilates chair since all exercises are done from a seated position while stretching and moving arms and legs. In addition to the physical benefits, seniors who do Pilates at least three times a week claim to feel more relaxed and optimistic.
Using a bike on a smooth outdoor path, senior citizens can enjoy a cardiovascular workout by cycling one to four miles two or three times a week, depending on fitness level. Cycling helps seniors maintain balance and musculature. Avoid uneven surfaces; consider biking around your neighborhood on side streets with reduced traffic. Parks are also an option. For daredevil seniors who are former athletes looking for a challenge, explore hills if you must; however, consider using an electric bike that offers power to help ascend steep terrain.
Dancing is good for the brain and body not just during youth but in the golden years, as well. Senior citizens can enhance coordination and balance while challenging their memory to recall dance sequences. Ballet, ballroom and salsa dancing are among senior favorites; using braces and canes are acceptable for those needing a little support as they side step and groove. Once moves are perfected in classes, social seniors can throw patio soirees and dance underneath the stars on summer evenings.
When the summer heat is at its highest, seniors should aim for slow exercises that aren’t too taxing, such as Tai Chi. Especially good for strengthening ankles, legs and knees, Tai Chi can help senior citizens mitigate the pain of arthritis and move with greater balance and power. Using postures and very slow movements, Tai Chi encourages seniors to move deliberately while keeping the mind focused on meditation and visual imagery. By so engaging the mind, Tai Chi also helps brain function. Basic Tai Chi moves for seniors include Cloud Hands and The White Crane.
Seniors skilled in yoga can spend the summer taking this Chinese discipline to the pool or beach to participate in aquatic yoga. Water-based yoga allows for maximum stretching, maximum range of motion and weightless movements in a soothing, liquid medium. Health benefits include reduced arthritis pain, better sleeping, better heart health and stronger immune responses.
Author Bio: Julia Dennis writes about Eco Friendly Assisted living facilities and other assisted living topics for Friendship Village. When she’s not writing she enjoys running and spending time with her children.