Since accidental falls are a significant source of injury for many older adults, incorporating balance exercises in your exercise regimen is essential. Doing balance exercises, such as the ones described here, or an activity such as tai chi or yoga, makes it easier to walk on uneven surfaces without losing balance. You can do these balance exercises every day, several times a day — even when you’re standing in line at the bank or the grocery store.
Everyone is different, and everyone’s health can change over the years—or even very quickly, such as after an injury or a medical event like a heart attack. Your doctor will be the best person to guide you on how to exercise safely, based on your medical history and current health. Need to find a new doctor or physical therapist? Look for one who specializes in older adult health and any conditions you may have.
One of the most exciting areas of exercise research is the investigation of cognitive function. What scientists have learned so far is that brain neurons, the special cells that help you think, move, perform all the bodily functions that keep you alive, and even help your memory, all increase in number after just a few days or weeks of regular activity. In a study in which researchers used an MRI machine to measure the amount of brain tissue in adults 55 years of age and older, they found results, consistent with other studies of aging and brain volume, showing there were substantial declines in brain tissue density as a function of age in areas of the brain responsible for thinking and memory, but importantly, the losses in these areas were substantially reduced as a function of cardiovascular fitness. In other words, the fittest individuals had the most brain tissue.
How might fitness and more brain tissue help you? Researchers have found that the fittest elders had the highest scores on tasks like coordination, scheduling, planning, and memory. And in a recent study of 1,740 adults older than 65, researchers found that the incidence of dementia in individuals who walked three or more times per week was 35% lower than those individuals who walked less than three days per week.
Remember, you are never too old to start exercising, and strength training in particular only becomes more important with age. My mom is an excellent example of this. She didn't take up strength training until the age of 74! Now, several years later, she's a testament to the fact that you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity, even if you get a late start.
Gather some friends for a therapeutic painting session and unwind. For-fun painting classes (a.k.a "Paint bars", where an instructor leads everyone through painting the same picture while participates indulge in some beverages) have become increasing popular for a fun and relaxing night out. Head over to PaintNite.com to search for class times and locations.
For balance exercise: Do some or all of these exercises every day for best results. Have someone standing nearby to support you if you are concerned you might fall, especially for the ones where I suggest closing your eyes, since this is the most challenging. Speak with your doctor before doing these exercises if you have a balance disturbance or are concerned about whether it is safe for you to do them.
Dr. Edward W. Gregg of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his colleagues at medical centers throughout the United States studied the women for an average of 7.6 years and found that higher levels of leisure time, sport activity, and heavy household chores and fewer hours of sitting daily were associated with a significantly reduced risk of broken (fractured) hip bones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest this amount of time for generally fit Americans aged 65 and older. Even though this sounds like a lot, the good news is that you can break it down into 10- or 15-minute chunks of exercise two or more times a day. Here’s an example of what a week might look like, along with suggestions for some exercises you can do to get started:
Yes, some seniors can be frail and have low energy reserves but most of us will respond well to moderate sessions of weight training. Numerous studies have shown that strength training for seniors and other exercises for seniors done regularly not only builds up bone and muscle but counteracts the weakness and frailty that usually comes with aging.
Going to the movies is an experience that will never get old. Nothing better than a cold dark theater and buttery popcorn fingers. Choosing the movie is easy, head over to Rotten Tomatoes to find reviews on the latest releases. You can also search tickets and showtimes to see what movies times you can make after dinner. Don't worry about the line, purchase your tickets right from the Rotten Tomatoes site.