5 Easy Ways Seniors can Exercise in Spring
After a long winter, the arrival of spring can feel like a breath of fresh air -- literally.
As the weather warms and the outdoors opens up to us we naturally want to leave behind the long indoor hours and once again introduce nature, clear skies and exposure to healthier routines.
And one great place to start enjoying the beginning of spring is by committing (or further recommitting) ourselves to healthy exercises.
The joy of a new spring exercise routine is that we no longer have to spend our exercise time surrounding by four walls and a roof. And exercise can be less fitness-focused to include activities like walking or gardening.
Here are five great spring exercise ideas for seniors that are healthy and enjoyable.
You can make spring exercise as easy as putting on a comfortable pair of shoes and heading to the park. Walking is the simplest form of exercise and one that is as beneficial as it is easy and a near-perfect exercise for seniors.
A daily walk of just half an hour has been found to greatly benefit cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of cardiac arrest by up to 50%. Other benefits include a stronger immune system, keeping off the pounds and lower risk of developing a physical disability during our later years.
And it’s easy to do. You can start small with a walk around the block a few times a week, then step up (literally) to walking to a nearby park or recreational trail to take in the spring bloom, and within no time you will be walking greater distances and yielding all the benefits of this overlooked form of spring exercise. There are often charity walkathons in spring and summer that you can join as well, as well as walking clubs.
“If you want to be happy for a lifetime, be a gardener” goes an old Chinese proverb. Maybe it’s time to update that saying, because being a gardener will make you happy AND physically healthy.
Connecting with nature in the garden nurtures in us some real physical health benefits. Tilling, tending and planting are great low-impact physical activities for older adults with a positive impact on muscle and heart health. It may be a surprise to some, but gardening is actually a great form of exercise, and one recommended by leading health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Planting and maintaining a garden engages our muscles. As we dig, hoe, lift and prune, muscles throughout our body are engaged, amounting to a gentle but effective form of aerobic and muscle-focused exercise. Gardening just twice a week can be a great way to physically maintain our bodies, and also benefit our mental and emotional health.
You’re never too old to ride a bike. And as our bodies age, getting back on a bicycle for a springtime ride is a low-impact and high-benefit way to maintain and boost our health.
Though biking is an enjoyable and easy form of exercise, its health benefits are significant. Benefits of regular cycling for seniors include rejuvenating your immune system, maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol, and preserving muscle mass.
It’s no wonder the health benefits of cycling have been backed up by numerous studies, which can sum up the power of biking in one word: remarkable. Biking and other aerobic exercises have even been linked with reduce cognitive decline in seniors.
And the low-physical impact of cycling makes it a great and sustainable form of exercise for those with joint pain, who can find walking too impactful on their knees. So grab your helmet and get pedalling!
Another great low-impact but high-yield spring exercise for seniors is swimming. If you live near an outdoor pool or warm body of water, this is a great way to exercise and enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors as spring makes open air swimming possible again.
Because swimming doesn’t require an forceful impact on our knees or put pressure on our hips and spine, it is a great safe, fun and universal activity anyone can do. And the resulting positive impact on our physical health is significant. Swimming has been found to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart and lung disease, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and improve our flexibility and muscle strength.
And swimming doesn’t have to require doing laps at a pool. Even water-based fitness classes, such as doing resistance exercises involving our arms and legs while standing in the shallow end of a pool, will improve our health. And if your lap-swimming skills are rusty, there are many opportunities to take a refresher course and tighten up your stroke.
Yoga is a great form of gentle low-impact exercise that, in the warmer spring and summer months, can be happily done outdoors under the sun and clear blue skies.
The health benefits of yoga for seniors are numerous. They include improved flexibility and joint health, stability and improved respiratory function and lower blood pressure.
Don’t think of yoga as something only for the young and limber. All ages and all body shapes and sizes can enjoy yoga and yield significant health benefits. The range of yoga poses also does not have to be intimidating; there are many easy, gentle positions that do not involve contorting your body or pushing yourself beyond your physical comfort zone. And taking them outdoors involves little more than grabbing a yoga mat and finding the right patch of grass to begin.
Whether you go for a short walk or commit to a swimming class, you’ll find that spring exercise routines are simply, enjoyable and fun -- and you can tailor them to the perfect amount of physical activity and outdoor time you want.
There are many great parks and outdoor areas in Orillia for seniors to start a new spring exercise routine in. And if you’re in the neighbourhood, feel free to book your tour of Sundial Lakeview Retirement Residence.