How Can Older Adults Benefit from 30-Minute Workouts for Seniors?

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The human body is a wonder—the more you keep it active, the longer it can stay active. While age can make it difficult for the body to maintain the stamina of its younger years, regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep seniors healthy and fit, both physically and mentally. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all older adults—both men and women—can benefit from regular, moderate physical activity. Regular 30-minute exercise for seniors can boost mobility, ease pains, improve heart health, and enhance mental wellbeing. 

Key Benefits of 30 Minutes Exercise for Older Adults


  • Prevents Bone Loss
  • We lose bone mass with age. Moreover, the rate of loss is higher in women post-menopause. A way to slow down and even prevent bone weakness is through regular exercise. Strength training is an effective way to reduce bone loss and strengthen the muscles around the bones. Like muscles, bones can also become stronger with exercise. Stronger bones can lead to fewer fractures and better gait. Strong bones also improve balance, thus preventing falls in elders and injury. 

  • Relieves Osteoarthritis Pain
  • It may seem contradictory, but the arthritic pain in your knees will reduce if you exercise. A 30-minute exercise for seniors that focuses on flexibility and range of motion can strengthen the muscles around sensitive joints, thus relieving pain and reducing stiffness. Regular low-impact cardio workouts also reduce inflammation and improve lubrication in the cartilage of the joints making movement pain-free. 

  • Helps Prevent Chronic Disease
  • Chronic diseases include heart conditions, diabetes, obesity, cancer and hypertension, among other ailments. Regular exercise can strengthen your body to keep these conditions at bay. Additionally, physical activity fires up the brain, improves eye, hand and leg coordination and reduces chances of developing cognition issues such as Alzheimer’s. 

  • Boosts Immunity
  • Physical activity builds your body’s defenses and strengthens the immune system. There are many studies about how exercise improves immunity. Research suggests that exercising controls inflammation, reduces stress hormones, and strengthens antibodies to fight infection. Better blood circulation during a workout can improve organ health and body metabolism. All of these parameters together work towards a healthy body that falls sick less often. 

  • Improves Mood
  • Exercise and mental wellbeing are deeply linked. Regulated diet and daily exercise can improve mood swings caused by hormonal changes. Moreover, a study revealed that physical activity might help fight depression in seniors by stimulating muscle-generated mood boosters. If you add social involvement to the mix, exercise can rid you of the feeling of isolation as you mingle with more people. 


    What exercises are best for older adults?

    The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity in a week for older adults. It comes to about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Let’s look at the different types of exercises for seniors.


    Before beginning any workout, remember to always check with your doctor if the exercise is suitable for your physical condition. 

    YOGA

    Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that improves balance, flexibility and range of motion of the entire body. Moreover, you can adapt the poses to suit your physical limits. For example, a 30-minute workout for seniors like chair yoga is an excellent way to reap the benefits of exercise by adapting poses to suit your mobility level. Other props include medicine balls, towels or foam blocks. 

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you begin:

    • If you are a beginner, it is best to work with an expert who can understand your physical state and guide you during practice. 
    • A slow and smooth flow is more beneficial for seniors than a fast-paced but poorly structured workout. 
    • Avoid forcing your body into a pose. Stop if you feel any pain or discomfort. 
    • Wear loose and comfortable clothing that can stretch easily. 
    • Remember to cool down with a Savasana or Corpse Pose by lying down on a mat and completely relaxing your body for a few minutes. 

    Here are 3 Yoga poses that seniors can practice to improve balance, endurance and flexibility: 

    Tree Pose

    Yoga for seniors

    • Stand with feet hip-width apart and palms pressed together at the chest. 
    • Intently shift the weight of your left foot on your right. 
    • Breathe in and lift the left foot off the ground and slide it up the side of your right shin, just above your ankles. 
    • Breathe out and gaze ahead as you balance your body on one foot.
    • Breathe normally as you stretch your arms overhead with palms together as you continue to balance on the right foot. 
    • Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds and repeat with the other foot. 
    • You can use a chair for support to balance. 

    Seated Spinal Twist

    Seated Yoga for seniors

    This pose works best for seniors with low mobility. You can do this pose seated on the floor on a mat or a chair. 

    • Breathe in and touch the right hand to the left thigh. 
    • Breathe out and gently begin to twist your body to the left as you gaze over your left shoulder.
    • Place your left hand behind you to support the twist.
    • Breathe naturally and hold the pose for 20 seconds.
    • Gently return to the center and repeat for the other side. 

    Sphinx Pose

    Benefits of yoga for seniors

    • Lie down on your tummy and place your forearms on the yoga mat.
    • Keep the elbows under your shoulders. 
    • Breathe in, press firmly into the arms and draw your shoulder blades together.
    • Look up and ahead as you lift your tummy in and up. 
    • Breathe naturally and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
    • Breathe out and relax your head back on the mat. 
    • You can repeat this pose 2 to 3 times. 

     

    PILATES

    If you’re an active older adult, Pilates is an excellent low-impact exercise technique that can improve balance, flexibility and range of motion of your body. Various Pilates workouts like Mat Pilates, Reformer routines or other exercises equipment for seniors to support the activity like bands and exercise balls. Pilates can be a fun balance exercise for seniors when done in a group. 

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you begin:

    • Consult a doctor before starting any workout.
    • Work with a trained Pilates teacher who knows the dos and don’ts for conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis or other issues. 
    • Start small and do not force your body if there is any pain or discomfort.
    • Your trainer can modify certain Pilates workouts to suit those with restricted mobility.
    • Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after your workout. 

    Here’s a 30-minute workout for seniors that uses Mat Pilates.

    30-minute pilates workout for seniors

    AEROBIC EXERCISE

    Aerobic exercise is a workout that builds up endurance and makes the heart and respiratory system work a little harder than usual. The result is better heart health, more oxygenated blood in the body, better lung function and improved everyday stamina.

    30-minute workout for seniors - Pilates

    Aerobic workouts with low impact are suitable for your cardiovascular health. Dance aerobics for seniors are extremely popular in a social setting, making it a fun activity. Research recommends a 30-minute exercise for seniors that work as a mood booster and benefits both the mind and the body. 

    Other beneficial aerobic exercises include brisk walking, swimming, cycling or water aerobics. 

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind before beginning an aerobic workout routine:

  • If cardio exercises are new for you, start small and slow.
  • The workout should be hard enough so that you can talk in short sentences, but not so hard that you’re left breathless and can’t talk at all.
  • Monitor your heart rate and stop in case of any discomfort.
  • Warm-up before any workout and cool down after completing it.
  • Aim for a total body aerobic workout that suits your mobility level. 
  • Pick a pace that you can keep up for at least 30 minutes on a walk and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Always keep a chair at hand to rest if you feel uncomfortable at any point. 
  •  

    STRENGTH TRAINING 

    Older adults need strength training to improve bone and muscle strength lost due to aging. Contrary to popular belief that an aging body can’t do weight training, the CDC recommends that seniors do muscle-strengthening workouts at least 2 days a week. A 30-minute exercise for seniors using bodyweight, light weights, resistance bands, or other equipment can make the muscles stronger, stop the bones from losing density, and improve balance in seniors

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind before starting a strength training program:

    • Warm-up before beginning any exercise routine. 
    • Begin by using lighter weights and gradually progress towards heavier ones. 
    • Use proper footwear to support your feet in strength workouts. 
    • Build up slowly and gradually increase the repetitions. 
    • Keep a chair nearby to rest if you feel tired or uncomfortable.

    Here are a few strength training exercises that are suitable for seniors:

    Planks

    plank - 30-minute workout for seniors

    • Start in a prone position with elbows bent directly under the shoulders, forearms, and palms flat on the floor. 
    • Keep your legs hip-width apart, balancing your body on the toes and arms. 
    • Lift your hips and keep the back and neck in a straight line parallel to the ground. 
    • Hold this position for 30 seconds while breathing normally. 
    • If it is too hard, keep your knees on the floor and hold the position.

    Chair Squats

     Chair squats for seniors

    • Stand right in front of a chair. 
    • Keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and extend the arms parallel to the ground.
    • Carefully bend your knees and lower yourself as if trying to sit in the chair. 
    • Make sure the knees don’t extend beyond the toes. 
    • You may either hover above the chair or sit in the chair and use your core strength to stand up straight again. 
    • Repeat this 5 times.

    Knee Lift with Medicine Ball

    Knee Lift with Medicine Ball - Exercise for older adults

     

    Final Thoughts

    Physical activity is necessary for maintaining a fit body and mind for independent living. Even with restricted mobility, some form of physical activity is always possible and beneficial. Several studies have shown that regular exercise enhances physical and mental wellbeing in people of all ages, especially older adults. Consult your doctor and reap the benefits of a well-planned 30-minute workout for seniors.

     

    FAQs:

    1. What is the best exercise for 70-year-olds?

    A workout that includes some form of flexibility, strength, and aerobic activity will help older adults improve balance and enhance the strength in their muscles and bones. Yoga, swimming and brisk walking are all low-impact exercises. However, consult a doctor before beginning any training.

    2. How many minutes a day should seniors exercise?

    The CDC recommends that seniors do 150 minutes of moderate-level exercises in a week or 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.

    3. What is the best time of day for seniors to exercise?

    Best time to exercise depends on the individual routine of an older person. However, most prefer to exercise either in the morning or in the evening. Additionally, you could spread the exercises through the day as short workouts.

    4. Should seniors lift weights every day?

    The CDC recommends that seniors include at least 2 days of strength training in a week which involves lifting weights. If an older adult wishes to lift weights every day, it’s best to consult a doctor for medical advice.

    Vince Baiera

    Vince Baiera is the founder of step2health, a mobility aids and wellness company for older adults. He is a former ICU Nurse of the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. With years of working on the frontlines, Vince noticed the struggles of older adults and people with mobility issues that became an impediment for both patients and their caretakers. He then designed and created the patented product, Step2Bed (and its variants) that helps seniors and those with mobility issues safely get in and out of bed. His philosophy concerning aging is to plan ahead and start with simple home and life modifications to avoid being overwhelmed at retirement.

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