Finally, summer is here!
Going outside for fresh air is a wonderful way for the elderly to keep the body, mind and spirit healthy. This also encourages exercise, promotes socializing with family and friends and allows you to have tons of laugh.
Here are 7 activities for active seniors that will give you every opportunity to do just that. Enjoy!
1. Self Defense Classes
Oh, stop with the guffaws already folks! I know right after body building for seniors, I have jumped to self-defense for older adults. Wait till you read the next term, “walking stick defense”. Yes, that is really a thing.
Humor aside, the fact is that the elderly are more vulnerable and at a greater risk of suffering from physical assault and attacks as they go about their lives, as proved by the spate of crimes against older adults in recent times.
Everybody has the right and the need to feel secure but as your body ages and gets slower and weaker, it is easy to lose that sense of safety and security and confidence in your own abilities to defend yourself. Well, there are a lot of simple self-defense strategies that can bring back the self-assuredness and protect you in case of an untoward incident.
From Krav maga to cane fu and even basic self-defense moves that are borrowed from various forms of martial arts, all are being taught to seniors in classes all over the country. Even if you never need the defensive tactics, the need for hand-eye coordination, quick thinking, rapid reflexes and physical abilities of self-defense will prove to be a fantastic workout for the brain and the body.
So, don’t think of these self-defense classes as a preparation for an incident that may never occur. Instead, think of them as a way to strengthen the mind and the body.
Unless you have serious mobility issues or a chronic health problem that affects the cardiovascular system or the joints, there is no reason why you should not and cannot take that bike out for a spin.
In fact, biking is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors without unduly stressing the joints, as long as you keep to relatively smooth and flat roads/terrains. Also, you will find a lot of cycling gear that is specifically designed to improve the comfort level of older cyclists.
For instance, you can find ergonomic seats and handles that make it smoother and more comfortable to enjoy the wind in your hair. Those of you, who do not feel comfortable maintaining their balance on two wheels, can opt for tricycles. They offer the same health benefits as cycling but with greater stability and comfort.
For older adults cycling is more than just a mere outdoor activity; it can be a way to socialize with other senior cycling enthusiasts as well as the perfect workout to keep the body healthy.
Although cycling for seniors continues to be a debated topic, numerous studies have shown that for the elderly who can ride their bicycles, the activity offers a host of health benefits, including weight maintenance, improvement in heart and immune health as well as the preservation and enhancement of cognitive abilities.
Fitness rolled into fun that is what Zumba is all about! The dance-workout fitness regimen has been the rage for a while now with well over 6 million people across the globe enjoying this foot tapping approach to fitness every week.
So, why should you be left behind, when the makers of the Zumba program have already brought out a gold version, specifically designed to meet the needs of older adults?
In fact, I am sure that a cursory glance online will get you information on several Zumba senior classes held in your area/city. I am sure at this point you are wondering how Zumba is different from a regular gym session or even aerobics. Well, for starters, Zumba Gold is a slow paced version of regular Zumba, which makes it just right for older adults.
It is gentler on the joints and the bones yet this version offers the same physical benefits that you would get from a regular Zumba session. Having said that, the thing about Zumba is that people love to do it.
You will be laughing, dancing and talking with your Zumba groupies and just having a good time. This means seniors are more likely to come back for a session week after week.
4. Outdoor sports
From golf to bocce ball and from shooting hoops to badminton and more all are available for older adults. So, when was the last time you indulged in an outdoor sport? For those of you who can’t think of a sport to choose, I have an article dedicated to the topic.
And yes, it only has competitive outdoor sports and not games. You know what this means, get ready to work hard to win guys. After all, nothing gets the blood flowing and the happy hormones surging like healthy competition and of course the glory of winning.
Plus, while you are enjoying the cognitive benefits of outdoor sports, you will also be working out almost all the muscle groups in that ol’ bod, which means greater strength, stability and confidence. So, get out there and start playing!
5. Scuba diving
Before you say a loud “No” to this one, I want to remind you that George Bush Sr, took a leap of faith, literally from the sky, at the grand young age of 90. All I am asking you, the moderately fit active senior, to do is take a leap into the ocean to explore the wondrous underwater world.
Given the fact that nearly 40% of all scuba divers are above the age of 50, I am sure you must have reckoned that age is certainly not a factor here. However, fitness is! There is a reason I have included this particular activity in the section for active and relatively fit seniors.
While scuba diving offers a host of health and cognitive benefits, if you have let your waistline go in the last couple of years or are battling cardiovascular issues, scuba diving is not for you. But, if these are not problems for you, scuba diving will prove to be a fantastic, low impact aerobic activity
6. Body building
Yes, I heard the collective chime of, “No way!”, and no, I am not about to draw your attention to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I will, however, ask you to lookup “Paul Stone”, “Ernestine Shepherd” and “Jim Arrington” and “Arthur Peacock”.
All of them were/are regular folks who had/have enviably chiseled bodies in their seventies and eighties and who started body building after their 65th. How is that for motivation and to keep active?
Nonetheless, if the term “body building” is proving to be a deterrent, let us change it to what it really is – “muscle strengthening”. Now, I am sure you will agree with me when I say that strong muscles will make you more stable on your feet. Also, muscle strength is the single most important physical attribute that you need as you get older.
Yes, it is harder for seniors to work on and develop muscle strength and definition. But, these elderly body builders have proved it that it sure isn’t impossible. Start slow and simple, always keep it natural and above all, keep going and you will get there.
7. Go dancing
Ladies and gentlemen, do not retire those dancing shoes just because you are heading towards your seventieth birthday. In fact, your golden years are just the time to put them on and head out to the nearest dance studio for a lesson or two.
And if you thought that the boogie is just good for the booty, think again! Of course, you will work up a sweat and you will work all the muscles in the body along with the one that sits atop your neck. Yes folks, dancing is just as good for your brain as it is for your body.
In fact, it is a swell way to boost your memory, improve coordination and balance and to increase the levels of happy brain chemicals. When you are dancing, there comes a point when you only focus on the beats and the movement of your body; all the worries, the stress, anxiety and angst are forgotten.
In a nutshell, the music shoves out the negativity and ushers in happiness and fun and your brain sure needs as much of it as it can get. So, it comes as no surprise that dance therapy is a popular form of mind-body-brain recreation used in senior centers.
So, you’ve guess it right…now is your time to do the things that you enjoy and let the good times roll, no matter your age!