10 Best Exercises for Older Women

Popular Exercises for Older Women

As we age it is important to take care of our bodies and protect ourselves from injury. When women go through menopause, they lose minerals in their bone tissue which results in osteoporosis and they are also more prone to having weaker knees, ankles, and hip fractures than their male counterparts. That is why it is so important to incorporate regular exercise into our daily routine since it has been shown that physical activity strengthens our joints and slows the process of bone deterioration. This can be hard, though, without knowing safe ways to exercise or how to get involved in activities. It is crucial to not put too much stress on your joints as you age, so the following exercises are a great way to work out without harming your body. However, it is important to check in with your physician before starting new exercises and to remember what your own abilities are. Starting slowly with simple exercises is better than jumping into a new activity and hurting yourself. When you do start exercising, investing in a good pair of tennis shoes is crucial to protect your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Protecting your lower body helps your body as a whole.

The good news is getting active is simple and easy to do, as long as the desire to do so is there. Some activities can be done in the comfort of your own home while others might require a gym membership. Many gyms offer plenty of information and have different classes and some that are specifically for senior citizens such as aerobic exercises, strength training, and other cardiovascular exercise classes. SilverSneakers® is a membership plan that comes with the Medicare Advantage Plan with the goal of getting older men and women more active in safe ways. They have online classes for people who prefer not to leave or who simply cannot due to road conditions or inability to drive. Being part of a group when exercising is one way to motivate yourself and get into a regular exercise routine. It is important to remember that regular exercise is not the only factor in leading a healthy lifestyle, but it is an important step in the right direction to increasing your overall health.

Regular exercise clearly has physical health benefits in regard to lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease as well as helping maintain balance with age, but it also has mental health benefits that tend to be overlooked. For one, working out with others helps form a sense of community and belonging. Exercise also releases endorphins which brings humans a sense of happiness and overall well-being. Working out regularly requires a schedule and routines can be very helpful to have at an older age to keep your brain and body active.

Below are 10 of the best ways for older women to stay physically and mentally healthy:

1. Water Aerobics: A great way to get your heart pumping and burn some calories is pool walking. It helps build muscle strength, but in a way that is still easy on your joints. The water adds in resistance that makes this slightly harder than regular walking. To increase your workout, you can also always add pool weights for curling or even to use as a floatation in the deeper ends of the pool. Another exercise in the pool is using kickboards or any flotation device like a noodle and simply kicking around the pool. If you feel like you can swim full laps, that is also a helpful workout. Swimming engages and strengthens your abdominal muscles as well as your arms and legs.

2. Walking: Keeping it simple with our second option, just go on a walk. Doctors recommend that people take at least 10,000 steps a day, so taking a walk is an easy way to get started on that goal. Take a stroll in your neighborhood or if you cannot be outside due to cold weather, you can walk on a treadmill at home or at a gym. Walking on a treadmill will still give you the same workout and you can also add inclines or declines to work your muscles out in a different way or increase the speed to make yourself take a brisk walk. If you feel like you are able to, you can always add in light weight hand weights to strengthen your arms while walking. Depending on your abilities you can also add in lunges every so often, but if you struggle with balance then avoid doing this.

3. Stationary Bike: Working out on a stationary bike is extremely low impact and an easy way to get your blood pumping. It helps build up your leg muscles without destroying your bones. Stationary biking reduces stress on your knees, hips, ankles, and even your back. Since women have higher risk of hip fractures due to osteoporosis than males do, working out on a stationary bike can be ideal to protect their hips. Your heart is also strengthened by using the bike and can reduce blood glucose levels, an important factor for diabetics. In addition to being a good workout, it is also far safer than being out on a road bike.

4. Yoga: Yoga is an excellent form of exercise and stretching that has many health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate as well as mental health benefits of reducing rates of anxiety and depression. However, since some forms of yoga involve complex movements, consult with your physician before you tackle the harder positions. You can do yoga at a studio or with a partner to ensure your safety from overextending your body or losing your balance. Balance exercises are a great way to help your body as you age, but remember to maintain proper form so you protect yourself. Make sure you know your abilities, so you do not push your body too hard.

5. Pilates: Pilates is aimed at helping people breathe in a more centered manner and focus on one’s balance by strengthening your core. With age, balance gets slightly worse and the risk of falling can increase due to this. Studies have found that women over the age of 65 who did Pilates three times a week for one hour each session improved their overall reaction time, strength, and balance compared to their peers who did not participate in Pilates.

6. Tai Chi: Another exercise that is breathing focused is tai chi, which involves a series of slow and fluid motions. It is extremely low impact and helps keep muscles relaxed and your breathing centered. Tai chi is helpful for improving balance and it also improves flexibility in your entire body. It has been found to reduce pain from arthritis and also is an excellent way to release endorphins for your mental health. It keeps your brain active by forcing you to imagine different poses as they are called out in a class. In addition to this being a safe method of exercise, it can be easily adapted for people who are wheelchair or bed bound.

7. Weight Training: Lifting free weights can be a daunting exercise, but strength training can actually be very simple and easy. This is a great way to build upper arm strength and get your blood pumping but know your limits. Strength training is important for combating muscle loss and increasing your bone density. There is no reason to lift heavy weights when lifting lighter ones can give you just as great of a workout while staying safe. You can also purchase ankle weights to help strengthen your ankles since women are more likely to have weaker ankles than males as they age.

8. Wall Pushups: Another way to build up upper body and specifically arm strength is by doing wall pushups. These are easier on the body than regular pushups and require less reliance on balance. Wall pushups also protect you from injuring your back by overarching or overextending it in a regular pushup. The starting position is simple, just place your left and right hand a shoulder-width apart on a wall and do the pushup motion.

9. Resistance Band Workouts: These workouts can be done at a gym or in the comfort of your own home thanks to the bands being affordable. Resistance training is a great way to strengthen your muscles without putting them under a great deal of stress as well as giving you a full-body workout. It can also help with flexibility and improving back strength/posture. You can tie them to solid items and do rowers with them to work your arm muscles out or step on them and pull up. You can start with the lower levels of resistance bands before moving up to harder ones.

10. Chair Squats: Chair squats are a great way to help build your lower body and core strength in a simple, affordable manner! All you have to do is use any chair and stand in front of it like you are going to sit, place your feet shoulder-width apart, and then sit while keeping your shoulders and chest upright and still. Push yourself up and repeat to get a nice workout in. Strengthening your core helps with balance and squats are also a good way to work out your legs and strengthen those muscles. Maintaining high muscle mass in your lower body is key or else you could lose mobility slowly.

Keeping yourself active is very important as we age, especially if you did not do so as a younger adult. Being active can help keep you a healthy weight, which means you have better chances of not developing diabetes or other diseases. Exercise coupled with healthy eating habits can help lead to overall healthy life.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi

https://www.silversneakers.com/learn-more/

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/07/22/no-bones-about-it-men-and-women-arent-equals-in-orthopedics

https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/pilates-seniors-core-workout/