10 exercises to help seniors stay fit

senior sport

The importance of physical activity for seniors

A rolling stone gathers no moss. This life lesson is not new and yet it is still underestimated. Physical activity is considered the secret weapon to feeling better, living longer and slowing down the ageing process. Too much sitting and too little exercise gradually lead to deteriorating health and are considered one of the main causes of many age-related diseases. For this reason, it is essential, especially in old age, to remain physically active on a permanent basis despite increasing physical limitations. This includes:

  • Endurance

  • Mobility & coordination

  • Strength

  • Balance    

Regular exercise also reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease and counteracts cognitive decline. Another benefit is the release of endorphins, which reduces the risk of depression, reduces stress and improves our drive. Even if certain physical limitations restrict certain activities, it is precisely these activities that should not be foregone.

So if you are not very mobile, work on your mobility. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults aged 65 and over should spend 150 minutes a week on physical activity. This 150 minutes can be achieved in exercise intervals of 10 minutes each throughout the week.

How exercise affects the body

Endurance activities are activities that increase the body's ability to withstand endurance exercise for longer periods of time. Improving endurance has been shown to have the following positive effects:

  1. Cardiovascular: The heart's ability to pump oxygen-rich blood is improved, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  2. Improved immune system: During exercise, the body releases adrenaline, which increases white blood cells (which include natural killer cells and B and T lymphocytes), which eliminate harmful cells in the blood more quickly and efficiently.

  3. Diabetes: Endurance training improves the body's sensitivity to insulin and thus helps to better control or even prevent diabetes.

  4. High blood pressure: Exercise lowers blood pressure in the long term.

 

Strengthening exercises aim to improve muscular fitness by exercising a specific muscle or muscle group with external resistance. This causes:

  1. Increased muscle mass: As we age, muscle mass decreases between 30 and 40 percent. Strength training can help counteract this tendency.

  2. Stronger bones: Strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of bone fractures.

  3. Flexibility of the joints: Increased muscle mass helps to relieve pressure on the joints and minimise the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

 

Flexibility exercises are designed to actively stretch muscles and tendons. The benefits of improved flexibility include:

  1. Improved posture: As we age, the water content in connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons decreases, resulting in reduced elasticity and flexibility. This reduction is largely responsible for poorer posture.

  2. Increased circulation: Regular stretching improves circulation and nutrient flow in the body.

  3. More flexible ankle joints: Flexible calf muscles help to better overcome small obstacles in everyday life, which is tantamount to fall prevention.

 

Balance exercises promote the ability to maintain a constant balance. This becomes increasingly difficult in old age. Therefore, seniors should work especially on actively training this ability in order to:

  1. Prevent injuries: An improved sense of balance can reduce serious falls and the resulting injuries. This provides an increased sense of safety in everyday life.

  2. Improve reaction time: Exercise and balance exercises help you to react faster in the event of a loss of balance and thus to be able to catch oneself better.

 

Conclusion: Regular exercise is extremely worthwhile and provides an improvement in almost all areas of life!

 

Which sports are suitable for fitness in old age?

The selection of sports that are possible for seniors is actually very extensive. The important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy so that you do it regularly. Here are some sports that are excellent for seniors:

  • Swimming

  • Cycling

  • Pilates

  • Yoga

  • Hiking

  • Trampoline Exercises

Trampoline exercises for seniors? Yes, you heard right. Especially nowadays, when many elderly people may no longer be able to perform their usual activities, it is particularly important for them to stay active in and around their homes. This is why the bellicon® mini trampoline is an excellent training partner for helping to stay fit and healthy within the comfort of your own home. Read here how a bellicon workout affects your health: Senior Fitness: Trampoline Exercises for Seniors

10 exercises you can do at home

We have put together 10 exercises that help to promote endurance, strength, coordination and mobility. Do the exercises at least 3 times a week to benefit from them in the long run. The exercises were performed on a bellicon® Classic, 112 cm, with the bungee strength medium.

Enclosed you will find a PDF with 10 exercises that you can practise daily.

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