Once the average person reaches age 55, their body undergoes physical changes that make muscles shrink, flexibility to decrease, and the loss of balance more possible. For all these reasons, when you’re helping a senior loved one who’s aging independently at home, exercise is important for their continued health and well-being. Keeping them active delivers numerous benefits which help counteract those caused by growing older. But if they’re not careful, exercising without taking the right precautions can also be dangerous. To keep your senior loved one happier and healthier while participating in an exercise program, use these exercise safety tips for seniors.

How Exercise Benefits Seniors

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a regular exercise program can benefit a senior in these ways:

  • Reduces stress, anxiety and helps combat depression
  • Promotes healthier eating and sleeping habits
  • Boosts energy levels and self-confidence
  • Lowers their mortality risk from coronary heart disease
  • Increases flexibility
  • Improves muscle strength, stamina and coordination
  • Helps alleviate back and joint swelling and pain from arthritis and related conditions

With these many exercise benefits in mind, now it’s time to look at some exercise safety tips for seniors, notably if it’s been a few years since they’ve done so.

Consult With a Doctor

If your loved one hasn’t had a checkup recently, they need to schedule one with a doctor. If possible, attend the appointment with them, and discuss with their doctor the senior’s exercise objectives. To ensure their body is up to the challenge, the physician will probably evaluate:

  • Their medical history including recent illnesses, medications, smoking history, past surgeries, and any chronic medical conditions they may have
  • Strength and coordination
  • Heart and lung function
  • Joint and muscle flexibility and pain

Choose Low-Impact Exercises

Someone in their late 60s or older shouldn’t grab a pair of 50 lb. dumbbells and start hoisting them over their head. Instead, low-impact forms of exercise that don’t place a lot of stress on muscles, bones and connective tissues work best, like:

  • Bicycling
  • Water aerobics or swimming
  • Walking
  • Weight training using light weights or resistance machines
  • Wii or similar interactive video games (Great for home-bound seniors!)
  • Yoga or Tai Chi

Warm Up and Cool Down

Persons of any age should always warm up first by stretching out their body, including their legs, arms, abdominal muscles, neck and back. This will also get their heart pumping. At the completion of their workout, a cool down using the same stretching techniques should be used.

Listen to the Body

Our bodies use pain to notify us when something isn’t right. If your loved one is experiencing knee discomfort while walking, for example, swimming or water aerobics may be a safer exercise for them to try. If the pain persists, it’s best to seek advice from their doctor.

Stay Hydrated

The human body is 70% water, and on average it burns 1.5 liters of that precious fluid per hour while exercising. As a result, it’s important for a senior to bring along a bottle of cool water while working out, and to stay well-hydrated during and after exercising.

There’s Safety in Numbers

It’s a fact that persons over age 55 are at a higher risk of an adverse cardiac event like a heart attack, so working out with others is advisable in case of emergency. There’s “strength in numbers”, as they say, and exercising as part of a group will also provide support and socializing opportunities for your loved one. Senior exercise classes are probably available at several locations in their area, like:

  • Hospitals
  • Churches
  • Senior centers or senior-focused gyms
  • The local YMCA or YWCA

When the senior you’re caring for is home-bound, and you’d like to exercise too, consider joining them for weekly in-home workouts using some fun DVDs!

We Help At-Home Seniors Exercise Safely

A regular exercise program that’s done safely is a great way for a senior loved one to continue aging independently in place within their own home. When it’s hard to find time to assist them, or you live too far away, contact Seniors Prefer Homecare. Our licensed caregivers love helping at-home seniors stay healthier and happier through exercise, and all are highly trained and carefully screened to put your mind at-ease. Our aids also deliver family trusted home care services like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meal preparation, transportation (Like to-and-from the gym!), and companionship within an individually designed package when and where you need them. To learn more about exercise safety tips for seniors, or why Seniors Prefer Homecare is becoming the go-to senior home care choice for families in the Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, AL, areas, visit: www.seniorspreferhomecare.com now!