Staying physically active is essential for seniors as it helps them stay healthy, mentally sharp, maintain independence, and helps keep chronic diseases at bay. It helps them maintain body balance, strength, and flexibility. It reduces the chances of becoming obese, prevents falls, and helps get a good sleep. It keeps them energetic to keep going throughout the day with zeal. Physical activities are as important as having balanced, nutritious meals to maintain health. When multiple studies have linked physical activities contributing to longevity, there is no reason not to indulge in them!
Which physical activities can be most effective for seniors? We thought we should start by requesting our seniors for some input. Our survey last week touched upon this topic, which seems to have been a hit! Seniors have participated wholeheartedly to give us many valuable insights. It is heartening that 38.3% of seniors rated their physical activities at 4 and 36.4% at 3, which is quite good. Also, 70.1% of respondents said they indulge in physical activities for average 30 minutes or more in a week. Is that enough? What are the physical activities you can explore? Let’s take a look.
- Take a walk
Ideally, doctors suggest adults above 60 years should walk 150 minutes per week. That means at least 30 minutes of walking five days a week. It can be brisk (is not speed!) walking and need not be jogging. Seniors should ideally take a long, slow walk rather than speeding it up. It builds endurance in the body and prevents injuries that can occur when you speed walk. Of course, if you have been jogging or running and your doctor has cleared it, there is no issue.
The best time to walk may be mornings so that you feel energetic for the rest of the day. Interestingly, 62.4% of our seniors indicated they take a morning walk. However, some seniors prefer to walk in the evening, which is also fine. If you want to have exploratory walks, explore guided walking tours such as heritage walks, bird-watching walks, etc., available in a few cities. You could start one if you are comfortable with the landscape. It can help you find like-minded walking buddies as well.
Note: A pair of walking shoes or sneakers is necessary to enjoy walking and avoid injuries. Also, follow these steps during summers.
Yoga is ancient India’s well-being gift to the world. It provides multiple benefits, such as improving joint strength, helping to sleep better, and preventing or controlling many chronic health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, anxiety, and more. It also relieves breathing issues and chronic pains and improves overall body flexibility and balance. Some recent studies have also confirmed many benefits, such as reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, better functional brain connectivity, etc.
Overall, it can help seniors to age better and healthily. And it is never too late to start Yoga. It is possible to personalise Yoga to find poses that suit individual needs and health. Our survey response found that 37.6% of our respondents practiced Yoga, which is promising. Hopefully, the benefits will urge more of you to take this up.
- Odd chores
Some of us do a lot of chores around the house, which is also notable physical activity. Cleaning, gardening, climbing stairs, or walking to the nearest stores to get supplies is good exercise. Even playing with your grandkids can be a physical activity, especially if they run around or you play cricket or football with them. These days, you can pay bills at the convenience of your sofa, so it is not a bad idea to take a walk to the nearest centres to pay your bills occasionally. We were happy to note that 28.2% of our seniors engage in gardening, and many others engage in housework in varying percentages.
- Tai Chi
56% of our seniors have indicated they feel fatigued during their physical activities only sometimes. For those who do, Tai Chi is an option. A delightful movie named The Intern showcases how a retiree helps a young woman entrepreneur to solve her business and personal problems. In this movie, the retiree is a Tai Chi practitioner and shows the meditation in motion happening! It implies why he can assess the situations logically and arrive at solutions. This Chinese martial art is a safe, low-impact physical activity for seniors, which is also inexpensive.
- Water sports
Here is a physical activity that can cool you off in the summer and give health benefits too. How about some swimming? Swimming is also a low-impact exercise that has reduced chances of injury. It improves cardiovascular health, and the water takes the weight off your joints to make you comfortable moving them. Studies have shown that swimming helps post-menopausal women in a few ways. One could do simple laps or engage in fun games.
However, we don’t see many seniors engage in swimming, confirmed by the responses in our survey (2.7%). Maybe, seniors need to shed the inhibition that they cannot learn to swim at their age or feel awkward entering the pool with others, etc. These days, swimming classes happen for people of all ages, and you can even have senior batches. It is one of the most ideal exercises, so give it a go!