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Tips to Help Seniors Improve Mental and Physical Health

We all lose our car keys from time to time, and it’s not uncommon to find the television remote under the coffee table after searching under all the couch cushions; however, as we age, these types of slip-ups tend to happen more often.  While this may be a normal part of aging, there are many ways seniors can boost their brains and improve their physical health.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity or 75 minutes of more strenuous exercise a week for seniors.  AAFP also advises seniors to participate in strength training at least two days a week. To keep your mind sharp, play cards, join a book club, watch a football game with friends, or play a brain-training app. Any sort of mentally challenging activity will keep your mind sharp.  Also, the more interaction you have with others, the better.  Getting plenty of sleep is also beneficial; to help seniors, the Sleep Foundation offers a variety of sleep hygiene tips.

Types of Exercise that Benefit Seniors

There are four types of exercise that can help improve endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.   When we think of endurance, many of us envision a long-distance runner crossing the finish line.  For seniors, though, aerobic activities that increase breathing and heart rate such as walking, bike riding or participating in sporting events go the distance for good physical health.

Training with dumbbells is one way seniors can strengthen muscles and bones while improving circulation.  Strength training can make it easier to do everyday things like getting up from a chair, climbing stairs, carrying groceries and opening jars. Practices like yoga or tai chi can help senior adults improve balance and prevent falls.  In addition, time stretching on that yoga mat reduces high blood pressure and anxiety. Plus, stretching exercises can help with things like reaching for objects on a shelf or even getting dressed.

Track your progress

Tracking the progress of workouts and inviting friends and family to participate in challenges can be fun and rewarding, plus it helps keep everyone involved and accountable. With so many gadgets out there, it’s hard to choose the one that’s right for you. Best for Seniors recommends the Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch as one way to track your progress and get necessary motivation.

Stay safe

Whether cycling your way to fitness on the open road, sweating it out on the treadmill at the gym, or working out to your favorite aerobics tape, it’s important to stay safe and prevent injuries.  For example, before hopping on that treadmill, ask someone for a tour of the gym that includes instruction on how to properly use all of the equipment.  While you’re riding around your neighborhood, don’t forget your helmet and keep bike safety in mind.  Before you start that aerobics tape, be sure you’re wearing the right shoes and that you have cleared the area of tripping hazards.

Improving your physical health can make a big difference in your mental health, and it’s an easy task if you add a few practical healthy habits to your daily schedule. Find what works for you and stick to a routine. You’ll be amazed at how great you feel. So get out there and have fun, stay fit and keep your mind sharp.

Photo Credit:

Jason Lewis is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness.

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