Regular exercise is important for everyone, especially as you age. Spending time with friends and socializing is also important for a healthy and happy lifestyle. Why not combine the two and get even more benefits?
There are several reasons that seniors should engage in social exercise, whether it is a tai chi or yoga class or weekly walking group. The benefits of exercise are plenty, and the benefits of social exercise are even more so. Muscle mass decreases as we age, as does our flexibility and range of motion, but certain exercises can help combat these effects. Consider one or more of these options, and make new friends while you improve your health:
- Tai Chi and Yoga. Practicing gentle and calming tai chi or yoga on a regular basis can cut the risk of falling nearly in half. Have fun and be safe while you learn by taking a class that's geared towards beginners or those over 50.
- Walking Groups. A daily walk is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart and strengthen bones, muscles and even your brain. Fresh air and sunshine are natural mood enhancers, so try walking outside whenever possible. A walking group is a great way to help ensure safety and great conversation. If you can't find a group in your community, start one with a few people in your neighborhood. You might be surprised how many people will want to join in on the fun!
- Water Aerobics. For a gentle and low-impact workout, it's hard to beat water aerobics. And what's more fun than donning a swimming suit and splashing in the water with friends while you increase your fitness? Check out the closest YMCA or community center to see if they offer water aerobics classes. Bonus: you don't even need to know how to swim!
- Dance. From the grace of ballroom standards to the moves and grooves of zumba, dancing is a great way to get your heart rate up. Classes can be found for every type of dance and for every level of experience, and they all offer music, fun, and the chance to meet new people while you learn a few new moves. Social and productive activities have also been shown to prolong lifespan, so get out and exercise with a friend or in a group setting, rather than doing it alone at home. It also increases accountability, so you'll be more likely to maintain a regular schedule.
This article first appeared in the September 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.