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Senior Exercise Produces Benefits for Grandparents

Six Tips to Make the Most of Every Type of Activity

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Senior exercise options can improve health, increase energy, add to stamina and combat depression. Besides, exercise is one of the most powerful anti-aging tools we have. Besides choosing an appropriate exercise option, grandparents should follow these six suggestions to reap the most benefit from an exercise program.

1. Do what you love.

Exercises for grandparents
Photo © Mark Scott / Getty
You're unlikely to stick with a type of exercise that you hate. Even if you choose the right exercise, you will still occasionally have to overcome inertia or fatigue to stick with your program. If you actually dread exercising, you're probably trying to do too much or you've picked something that's not a good match for your fitness level or interest. On the other hand, seniors who have played in a basketball or soccer league shouldn't give it up just because they're older, although at some point they may want to move to a senior league or a lower level of competition.

2. Take proper precautions.

Fitness for grandparents
Photo © Stockbyte / Getty
Although it's important to warm up and cool down at all ages, it becomes even more important as one ages. In fact, seniors should extend their pre- and post-exercise routines. You should stretch even before a low-impact exercise such as walking. If your exercise is interrupted by a conversation with a friend or neighbor, warm up again before returning to your previous speed or level. Muscles get stiff quickly. Other precautions that seniors should observe include drinking plenty of water and avoiding outside exercise during extremes of temperature.

3. Dress appropriately.

Fitness clothing and gear for seniors
Photo © Barry Austin / Getty
Frugal seniors sometimes skimp on clothes and shoes for exercise. Having shoes that support the foot is essential for weight-bearing exercise. Shoes should be replaced often, long before they begin to look worn-out. Although expensive clothing is not necessary for most types of exercise, you'll want to wear clothing that doesn't bind or chafe. Fabrics that wick moisture away from the body are good for both hot and cold weather.

4. Exercise even when you're not exercising.

Daily exercise for seniors
Photo © Barbara Penoyar / Getty
One of the benefits of an exercise program is that it builds body awareness. As you are more in tune with your body, you'll be more aware of your posture even when you're not exercising. Learn about the causes of poor posture and correct them. By walking tall, sitting tall, keeping the shoulders back and holding in the abs, you'll be getting a workout even when you're not working out. You'll also find ways to beef up your daily routines, by working on balance while washing the dishes, or by taking stretch breaks while working on the computer.

5. Keep a positive mental attitude.

mental attitude important for senior fitness
Photo © Will Selarep / iStockphoto
One of the greatest obstacles to fitness is the tendency to get discouraged when you slip. It's much easier to miss a workout if you've already skipped one or two, because you quickly adopt a defeatist attitude: "I'm never going to be able to stick with this." Instead, concentrate on the times you did make time for exercise. If you're working toward a moderate level of fitness, you'll find that working out is harder after a missed workout or two, but it's not nearly as hard as starting from scratch. Praise yourself when you are faithful, and forgive yourself when you're not.

6. Have fun.

Fun exercise programs for seniors
Photo © Noel Hendrickson / Getty

Part of making exercise fun is choosing something you like doing, but other factors also make exercising a pleasure or a burden. Some enjoy listening to music or audio books while exercising; others prefer just listening to the birds or being alone with their own thoughts. If you hate conventional exercise, try water aerobics. You won't sweat, but water resistance ensures a good workout. If you find your exercise program growing stale, try one of these fun fitness activities that you can share with the grandchildren. Don't they make everything more fun?

See also tips for sticking with a healthful diet.

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