It’s easy to get into a rut with our daily and weekly exercise routines. And when in a rut, we may procrastinate or skip exercise altogether. Where we once logged our 150 minutes per week with regularity, we now find ourselves sitting more and moving less.
The pandemic caused us to give up our usual routines. And although it may have seemed that more time at home would free us up to exercise, I know the opposite has been true for many. We became more lethargic, not energized. And those who have had to deal with Covid infections may still not feel back to normal.
But there is good news. We can perk up and get some movement back into our lives in a great number of ways. Let’s look at ways to renew our appetite for fun movement and exercise to keep our health at optimal levels:
- Meditative Movement
If you prefer your exercise to be calm and focused, then one of the below may work for you.
Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a system of movements and positions developed in twelfth century China. It addresses both the body and the mind. It’s slow, controlled movements enhance balance. It is also good for pain management and improved sleep patterns. Tai Chi classes are easy to find, or you may prefer to do an online version at home.
Yin Yoga: Yin Yoga is a slow, passive style of yoga. It is done mostly on the floor in a seated or lying-down position. In this form of yoga, you will hold poses for a long time, sometimes as much as twenty minutes. The poses target ligaments, bones, and joints. And are good for the hips, pelvis and lower spine.
Qigong: This mind/body exercise comes from China and Tibet. It is good for both balance and flexibility. It is a gentle way to exercise for those unaccustomed to much movement or those with physical disabilities. Qi means energy or life force and gong means to work or gather. So in the movements one is focusing on healing the body by repeating certain movements either three, six or nine times.
- Balance Routines
It’s very important for seniors to work on balance to prevent falls and all the complications they can bring. There is dynamic balance in which we work on the ability to move outside the body’s base of support while maintaining posture control, and static balance in which we maintain the body’s center of mass within its base of support.
Balance exercise creates muscular balance in the body, improves neuromuscular coordination and teacher the body to use the core for stabilization.
Any exercise in which you balance on one foot or hold a position of balance is good for you. You can find lists of exercises that improve balance at Very Well Fit.
- Cardio Workouts
Any exercise that gets your heart rate up is a cardio exercise. For seniors low impact, high intensity exercises are best. You might take a class that includes whole body movements or spend time walking briskly, walking on a treadmill, using a stair mill, recumbent bike, or elliptical machine. Work with your doctor to establish your maximum heart rate goal.
- Sitting/Chair Routine
Many seniors are not stable enough to do standing exercises. Not to worry! There are lots of benefits from exercising from a seated position. Create your own playlist of seated exercises choosing from overhead presses with light weights, stretches, seated marches, bicep curls, upper body twists, leg extensions and calf raises. And if you add in some music, you’ll have a fun time while you’re at it.
- Strength Training
Strength training for seniors, using one to three pound weights or resistance bands may include overhead presses, squats, incline push-ups against a wall, glute bridges, arm rows or a whole array of other exercises. The trick here is to do them regularly, and not to over-do as you begin. Working out with a warm-up period and a cool-down period at the end is also a must.
- Dance as Exercise
Any time you add music to movement you add an element of fun. Exercise doesn’t have to be grim; it can be a blast! Take a Zumba Gold class (the one for seniors), learn to country line dance or take a dance/exercise class which involves your arms, shoulders and lots of steps and kicks.
Whether you choose a solo workout or decide to join a class or group, you’ll feel better, look better and ramp up your energy level to once again, enjoy daily life. It’s good to “get moving.”