Exercise has never been a more significant part of the aging conversation as it is now. Not only does research continue to illumine how exercise helps prevent lifestyle diseases like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, but it has also been shown to protect older adults against injury, cognitive decline, and even depression.
5 Fall Fitness Ideas for Seniors Backed By Science
If you are looking for motivation to spark a new fall fitness habit, don’t miss these 7 fun ideas:
Cycling – there are few better ways to view the beautiful foliage fall has to offer than by cycling. Goods new for seniors too. New research shows that routine cycling not only helps older adults retain critical muscle mass as they age but it also bolsters their immune systems helping to protect them against illness and infection.
Learn a new skill – mental fitness plays just as important of a role as physical exercise when it comes to staving off cognitive decline and dementia. Harvard researchers share that learning a new skill or taking an educational course as an older adult can help slow cognitive aging. If your local college or university offers free and discounted classes for adults over 65, consider signing up for one that interests you – photography, learning a foreign language, mastering an instrument, you name it!
Pick the harvest – whether it’s shaking apples off a tree at an orchard, snapping up pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, or picking winter squash at a local farm, hand-picking the organic local harvest isn’t just a great way to get out of the house and moving; it also allows you to stock your kitchen with fresh whole foods that can improve your overall health. A brand new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has linked an increased consumption of organic foods as an adult with a lower risk for some cancers including skin, breast, and prostate cancer.
Yoga – if you have been looking for yet another reason to give yoga practice a try, how about illuminating study results that show routine yoga practice can help reduce falls and improve balance measures in seniors? With roughly one out of four seniors experiencing a fall every year, it’s more critical than ever for older adults to find effective ways to guard themselves against falling. A simple yoga routine could be the answer, even for older adults with mobility problems, since you can do beginner’s yoga poses with a chair to brace yourself, using a knee scooter, or even in a seated position.
Volunteer – while giving back to others fills most people with warm fuzzies, it also generates a special health benefit for seniors – a lowered risk of high blood pressure. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that older adults who volunteered at least 200 hours per year reduced their risk of developing high blood pressure by 40 percent!
Autumn is ripe with volunteer opportunities from holiday giving to National Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, November 17th. Get out with your friends, kids, or grandkids and get a little exercise while you do a little good in the community whether it’s cleaning up the neighborhood park, packing boxes of food for the local food bank, walking and bathing dogs for the local animal shelter, or helping out at a holiday charity event.
Important Fall Fitness Reminders for Seniors
While taking advantage of the cooler weather to exercise outside is smart, you also want to be prepared with these essential tips:
Stay hydrated – it can be easy to forget to drink lots of water before, during, and after your workout when you don’t have a hot sun beating down on you or when age has diminished your sense of thirst. Hydration plays a key role, however, in replacing fluids you lose during exercise and maintaining the critical water balance that your organs, especially the kidneys, need to function. Stay hydrated by frequently drinking water and consuming water-rich foods like soups and smoothies.
Wear layers – you never want to be caught over or underdressed when exercising outside. For cooler temperatures, you’ll want to don layers of lightweight, breathable clothing like a t-shirt and then a light sweatshirt on top. This way, if you warm up, you can remove the sweatshirt and when you cool back off, you can put it back on and avoid freezing.
Check the weather – a beautiful fall day can quickly get disrupted by blustery, strong winds or a random thunderstorm. Always check the weather before you head outside so you have an idea of when it will be safest and driest to go adventuring. Don’t forget to monitor the windchill in addition to the temperature so you’re not caught off guard by a sudden chill.
Don’t forget sun protection – did you know that the average age for a melanoma skin cancer diagnosis is 63? Even on overcast fall days, it’s important to wear sun protection if you are going to be outside longer than 10 or 15 minutes. Sunblock, long sleeves, sunglasses, and hats that cover your head will help guard your body against harmful UV rays that can contribute to skin cancer.