If you’ve been physically active your entire life or are just starting to explore it, with every life stage there are important ways to help maintain your overall health and wellness. When it comes to senior wellness, you should consider a holistic approach that includes an exercise program, healthy eating to ensure you’re getting the right nutrition, and opportunities to socialize.
That’s why today’s senior living communities offer exercise programs designed for seniors and may even have a registered dietitian on staff.
The importance of staying active.
Even if you’re not physically active now, doing any type of exercise provides some physical health benefits. For beginners, it’s important to find something you can do until you’re able to start a routine that includes walking, stretching, weight training and balance.
If you’re looking for a place to start your senior fitness, the CDC recommends aerobic activities supplemented with strength-developing exercises at least twice per week. These activities will help you:
- Build strength
- Maintain bone density
- Improve balance, coordination and mobility
- Reduce your risk of falling
- Maintain independence in performing activities of daily life
Strength training can also reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions, including:
- Arthritis: reduces pain and stiffness, and increases strength and flexibility
- Diabetes: improves glycemic control
- Osteoporosis: builds bone density and reduces risk for falls
- Heart disease: reduces cardiovascular risk by improving lipid profile and overall fitness
- Obesity: increases metabolism, which burns more calories and helps with long-term weight control.
- Back pain: strengthens back and abdominal muscles to reduce stress on the spine
A lifestyle focused on senior wellness.
As you evaluate your senior housing options, many communities are adding services and amenities focused on senior wellness. Here are some things they’re doing and what they add to your lifestyle.
National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS): Some communities feature an NIFS-certified personal trainer. They will evaluate your current level of wellness and then tailor a fitness routine to ensure you’re able to safely and effectively reach your goals.
HUR: Designed specifically for older adults, HUR workout equipment is easy to use and is a safe way for you to get an effective full-body workout. HUR equipment is often used for wellness programs as well as rehabilitation.
Senior fitness classes: Communities offer a wide range of classes to fit every ability and fitness level. For example, they may offer yoga and chair yoga or pilates and chair pilates.
Walking trails: To help residents take advantage of the many benefits of walking, many communities have outdoor walking trails. In case of inclement weather, they may also have an established walking route inside their community.
A lifestyle focused on nutrition.
As you age, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories. But you also need more of certain nutrients. To strike the right balance, you should choose foods that give you the best nutritional value without adding calories. Healthy eating should ensure you get all the nutrients you need and feature a variety of bright-colored foods. According to the National Council on Aging, a healthy meal should include:
- Lean protein: lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans
- Fruits and vegetables: look for orange, red, green and purple
- Whole grains: brown rice and whole-wheat pasta
- Low-fat dairy: milk and milk alternatives like soy, almond, cashew, etc.
Of course, planning a meal that meets all these requirements day after day can be a challenge. That’s why many communities feature registered dietitians. A dietitian can help you:
- Find ways for you to both enjoy your food and maintain healthy eating habits.
- Determine what you should increase and decrease in your current diet to improve your overall health, lower your risks for particular diseases and health conditions, and help you feel your best.
- If needed, they can help you lower your cholesterol, improve your glucose levels, and control your blood pressure.