by Katie Ferraro
Movement is important for people of any age, but as you get older, staying active may look a little different. The type and level of activity you partake in depends on your history, but it’s never too late to get started with an active routine.
As a senior, it’s easy to think whatever wellness regime you undertake will have to consist of boring exercises. But it doesn’t have to be! As these four ways to stay active as a senior prove, getting some movement in can as fulfilling as it is functional.
1. Consider Adopting a Furry Friend
In virtually every city, there is a dog looking for a new place to call home. Not only are dogs great companions, but they can also help you stay more active, which makes adoption a mutually beneficial relationship. Taking a dog on a walk or to the dog park will encourage you to get some steps in for the day.
An added bonus? Research has revealed impressive benefits of pet ownership, especially among seniors. In a study by Frontiers in Psychology titled “Human–Animal Interaction and Older Adults,” researchers focused on cardiovascular health, depression and anxiety, loneliness and social support, physical activity and falls, and quality of life and life satisfaction.
When considering the benefits of cardiovascular health, the study points out, “The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement suggesting that pet ownership (particularly dogs) may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” Besides, who doesn’t like cuddling up with a furry friend after a long day?
2. Volunteer with a Cause That Is Meaningful to You
Maybe stepping into pet ownership isn’t in the cards for you, or perhaps you prefer to ease into it. Volunteering at an animal shelter or nonprofit focused on animal welfare in your area could be a great first step! This will give you the opportunity to get the same benefits of pet ownership — like going on walks and playing with them — and keep you active while deciding if becoming a dog owner is for you.
Of course, if animals aren’t your thing, you could choose a cause that means something to you. Maybe you love working with kids and volunteer at an after-school program or choose to help serve the other seniors in your community by serving lunch at a local kitchen. Volunteering with a cause not only encourages physical activity, but it will also help you create community.
3. Set an Activity Goal
Incorporating at least 30 minutes of activity into your day can make a huge difference. This doesn’t have to be strenuous activity by any means, and it doesn’t have to be completed all at once. Whether it’s a weight-training program designed for seniors or light yard work, it’s all about creating a plan and sticking to it.
4. At-Home Exercise
Hopping into a new fitness routine at any age can be intimidating, but at-home workouts don’t have to be. One of the common misconceptions about at-home workouts is that people think they need proper equipment. The reality is, anything around the house can be used as equipment. You could fill up a milk jug or two with water or carry grocery bags with canned goods. Both are great options when it comes to do-it-yourself weights.
Here are a few exercises for the elderly you can easily incorporate:
All of these things can help you stay active, but in order to keep safety and comfort top of mind, invest in compression socks. They can increase mobility and help to reduce muscle soreness in the legs and feet by promoting blood flow and fighting fatigue, no matter what activity you choose to partake in.
Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.
Human-Animal Interaction and Older Adults: An Overview ( Frontiers in Psychology) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573436/