An active lifestyle contributes to health and wellness at any age, but adequate activity level for seniors is especially important because staying healthy means more freedom and lower health care costs. A gym membership can help maintain or improve activity level, contributing to overall health. The gym also provides seniors an opportunity to meet and establish relationships with other health-minded individuals. Gyms today have tons of equipment, some of which will be more helpful for those over 60.
Safety and Control
One of the benefits of proper exercise is the easing of stiffness and joint pain. For people over 60, this means the best kind of equipment offers low-impact and controlled movements. An elliptical machine is safe because you never pick your foot up from the machine. This provides a lower risk of landing incorrectly. After you step onto the elliptical, adjust your feet so they are centered on each pedal. Your hands should be at a comfortable height on the handlebars. Start moving your feet in a forward or backward motion. Use your hands to push and pull on the handlebars for a greater arm workout.
The elliptical is also a great choice for indoor aerobic activity. It increases your heart rate and builds endurance. The stationary bike is another option. Adjust the height of the bike seat to suit your size. Place your hands comfortably on the handlebars without leaning your body forward. Like the elliptical, the bike has a screen that displays your speed. Take note of a speed that is comfortable enough for you to still talk at as you exercise. When you're ready for more work, increase the amount of time you're spending on the machine, and then you may be able to increase your speed as well.
Part of the natural aging process includes loss of muscle mass. This can be overcome through strength training. The rowing machine is a good option for seniors. To use it, maintain a straight back. Pull the handlebars toward your torso with control as your feet press onto the foot pads to straighten your knees. Bend your knees and uncurl your arms to release and then repeat. Dumbbells are also a great tool for strength improvement because they come in small incremental weight changes. When using dumbbells, stand near a bench so that you can set the weights down without having to stoop all the way to the floor.
The Importance of Stretching
Maintaining flexibility is beneficial for your body as you age. It helps relieve aches from stiffness and regulates functions like blood pressure. Yoga straps are great stretching aids. Most gyms will have these in a group classroom. Try a seated forward bend, looping the band under your feet so that you can grab both sides of the band instead of struggling to reach for your toes. While stretching, teach yourself to notice when one side of your body is tighter than the other. This information could be helpful to relay to your doctor or chiropractor.