If you’re like us, you’re always telling yourself that you need to go for a jog, get to the gym, or do more yoga classes, but you never seem to get as much exercise in as you should. Well it turns out that seniors are no different. Health experts say that folks over 65 should get at least 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise each week regardless of age, but most seniors are getting far less than that and many are not even physically active. But the simple bottom line is that any exercise is better than no exercise, and as caregivers we can help our loved ones a lot by getting them into a good routine.
Do it together
Our first tip is to make doing some sort of exercise part of what you do with your loved one each week or whenever you see your loved one. Not only do you make exercise a regular part of your loved one's life and something they can look forward to, but you also get some benefits yourself!
Here are a few things we like to do with our parents:
- Family walks (can be a brisk walk if you are both up to it); even 5-10 minutes can make a big difference
- Water aerobics at your local YMCA
- Senior exercise videos
- Hobbies like gardening, photography, or bird watching that get your loved one out and about
- Yard work or house cleaning (OK, nobody actually likes doing this, but it’s good exercise and useful too!)
And when you are not there to exercise with your loved one you might try finding some group exercise classes your loved one can attend with other seniors. These are often organized at your local Y or other community organization, and more and more health clubs offer senior classes. Again, doing group classes gives your loved one something to look forward to and adds needed social time too!
Other useful tips
- Exercise benefits just about everyone regardless of age or conditions
- If your loved one has a medical condition like diabetes or heart disease, you should talk to their doctor about the best activities and any other things you should do
- Get your loved one good shoes that fit well. We generally like good walking shoes that don’t have super thick soles
- The ideal exercises balance endurance activities like walking with stretching, balance, and strength building
- And again, anything is better than nothing, even for yourself!