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How To Keep Seniors Active

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An All-In-One Guide On How To Keep Seniors Active

As we age, it sometimes becomes increasingly more difficult to move our bodies.

Muscles ache, we gain weight, we slow down and unhealthy habits can begin to creep in.

By staying active, maintaining an independent and fulfilling lifestyle as we age (even if that is at an assisted living facility) is possible.

Here we will explain how to keep seniors active and why it is so important for their mental, physical, and emotional health to live a healthy lifestyle for as long as possible.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Keeping Seniors Active

Staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just as important for senior citizens as it is for younger people. The benefits of physical activity range from physical to emotional and mental.

Keeping seniors active can:

  1. Help maintain their physical strength. 

  2. Reduce the risk of heart disease by strengthening their cardiovascular health.

  3. Build mental toughness.

  4. Increase bone density.

  5. Help maintain a healthy body weight.

For seniors living in a senior living facility, staying active can help prevent isolation. 

Many activities in a senior living facility are group activities, so they give seniors a chance to socialize and spend time around other people living a similar lifestyle as themselves.

Senior woman in swimming pool smiling

How Much Physical Activity Do Seniors Need?

The CDC suggests that as an older adult, physical activity is one of the most important things that can be done for your health.

Any physical activity is better than none.

Of course, when keeping seniors active, their current health should be taken into consideration. 

That being said, if health conditions allow, it is suggested that older adults and seniors attempt 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.

How To Keep Seniors Active: 4 of Our Top Tips To Get Seniors Moving

It is so important to continue to take care of your body as you get older. For seniors, staying active might seem increasingly difficult as they age.

They might:

But these reasons are exactly why it is important to motivate seniors to stay active as they get older.

Here are a few tips on how to keep seniors active:

  1. Offer assistance to those who need help.

  2. Remove expectations and start small.

  3. Set goals to work on.

  4. Remind them how important staying active is for their health.

Senior Services of America strives to keep our residents physically active to help them remain as independent, healthy, and involved with their community as possible.

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1: Offer Assistance

Oftentimes, seniors living in assisted living facilities don’t want to seem like a bother to the staff, so they try not to ask for help

When there isn’t anyone actively helping seniors to engage, even when they want to, they might give up on asking for help.

By consistently offering assistance to seniors, they are more likely to accept the help and stay active as they age.

2: Remove Expectations — Staying Active Doesn’t Mean Running A Marathon

Seniors should remove any grand expectations they have of staying active. 

There might be an underlying fear of:

  • Getting hurt

  • Embarrassing themselves; or 

  • Failing. 

Remind seniors to start small and remember that any movement is better than no movement at all.

Even going for a small walk once or twice a day is something. 

Remember, no one is expecting you to run a mile. 

A short walk can feel great physically and mentally and be an enjoyable and beneficial experience for seniors.

3: Set Goals 

Goals are a great motivator for people of all ages. 

By setting achievable goals, seniors have something they can work towards. 

Everyone loves a good challenge, and when seniors begin to see the small improvements, it will motivate them to keep moving towards the big goal.

4: Remind Seniors That Staying Active Is Essential to Their Health

Despite how some seniors living in assisted living care might feel, they can still do activities that they like and that make them feel good.

While some seniors enjoy physical activity, others might need a reminder that staying active is important for their physical, emotional, and mental health. 

And there are a lot of benefits from staying active as you get older, too.

Senior woman taking online yoga class

5 Ways Seniors Benefit From Staying Active

Keeping seniors active is beneficial for many reasons. Most importantly, by learning how to keep seniors active and engaged as they age, they can live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

1: Socialization

Physical activity is one way to get seniors out and around other people regularly.

These people can include:

  • Staff members at an assisted living facility

  • Other senior members

  • Friends; or 

  • Family.

Maybe there is an aerobics class, swim class, or a walking group at a senior living facility that would be helpful for senior activity and socialization.

These social activities can allow seniors to have a sense of independence while avoiding isolation in their rooms and benefiting both their physical and mental health.

2: Positive Mental Health

Physical exercise is one way that your body stimulates the production of endorphins and releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

These chemical reactions can help reduce stress and anxiety and trigger a positive feeling in the body.

The continued physical exercise will also benefit your appearance. And when you look good, you feel good about yourself.

When you look good and you feel good, you’re more likely to be in a positive mental health space.

3: Maintaining Strength

Maintaining physical strength is so important for seniors for a few different reasons.

  1. It promotes independence because a senior who can walk or get around easily on their own can do things as they please without any assistance. They are not inconvenienced by walkers or wheelchairs, avoiding staircases, or need extra help to complete daily tasks.

  2. Strong muscles can help with balance which reduces the risk of falling. This also makes completing daily tasks easier to do.

Physical strength can have impressive health benefits including reduced stress, better metabolism, and increased muscle mass which naturally declines with age.

4: Improved Healing 

Keeping seniors active can also help the healing process.

As adults age, our immune systems weaken and we have to work much harder to heal when we become sick. 

Seniors who are active can help this healing process because they are strengthening their entire body from the inside out which can promote healing and boost immunity.

5: Better Sleep

As people age, their sleep changes. For the senior community, this often means they are getting less quality sleep.

About 50% of seniors aged 65 years old and older have sleep difficulties:

  • Of that 50%, about 30% have insomnia.

  • Of that same 50%, about 20% have sleep apnea.

    Poor nighttime sleep can have a slew of problems, including:

  • Daytime drowsiness

  • Fatigue

  • Poorer quality of life

  • Cognitive and mental health issues

  • Metabolic issues

  • Cardiovascular problems

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

Active seniors will likely feel more relaxed because they are using their energy in a way that is beneficial to initiate good sleep. 

Senior Services of America communities offer a hands-on approach to seniors who can’t or do not want to live alone anymore. Our services aim to keep seniors engaged mentally, physically, and emotionally to help them live an independent and fulfilled lifestyle.

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What Activities Are Good For Seniors? 

Susan is a 65-year-old woman living in a senior living facility. 

In the past, she broke her hip from a bad fall and gained unhealthy weight during the healing process. 

Now that Susan’s hip is healed, she wants to engage in physical activity that her body can handle to promote a healthier lifestyle moving forward.

Where can Susan begin? She knows it is important for her to move her body, but she wants to be sure she learns what activities are good for seniors.

Here’s what Susan should know:

  1. Yoga can help Susan improve her balance and limit her risk of future falls.

  2. Walking, swimming, and other aerobic exercises can help Susan use muscles she might not regularly exercise every day.

  3. Simple strength exercises, like squats or step-ups, can help Susan build muscle.

Senior woman walking beagle

Balance Activities 

As we age, balance becomes more and more important because it helps reduce the risk of falling and breaking fragile bones

According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in older American adults.

Some beneficial balance activities for seniors include:

  • Yoga

  • Calf raises on toes

  • Marching in place

  • Wall push-ups

  • Single side leg raises

Aerobic Activities

Aerobic activities are usually simple and fun to do. They can be nearly any activity that seniors find enjoyable, like walking or dancing.

Aerobic activities are especially great for seniors with limited mobility because they can easily be modified to only use specific body parts and still be beneficial. These activities are also great for socialization.

Seniors should aim for about 2.5 hours (or more) of aerobic activity each week. 

Some beneficial aerobic activities could include:

  • Swimming

  • Walking

  • Slow jogs

  • Dancing

  • Water aerobics

Strength Training 

Strength training is so important because it:

  1. Increases muscle mass

  2. Helps increase bone density

  3. Aides in joint flexibility

  4. Helps with weight control

  5. Increases balance and flexibility

Many senior living facilities have gym access and organized exercise classes, and seniors can benefit from taking part in strength training if their body allows.

Some great strength training exercises include:

  • Squats

  • Push-ups

  • Step-ups

  • Shoulder presses

  • Bicep curls

    All of these moves are easily modifiable to meet any senior at their current activity level.

Senior Services of America: Our Facilities Believe In Promoting Independence by Keeping Seniors Active

At Senior Services of America, we have a genuine desire to help seniors live a more fulfilling life. 

We do all that we can to ensure seniors stay active in our care by offering organized activities, physical therapy, and assistance wherever necessary.

We strive for our seniors to be as independent as possible by ensuring they stay active and involved in our community.

To see what Senior Services of America can offer to you and the seniors in your life, find a community near you

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Senior Services of America

800-689-0493

1201 Pacific Avenue Suite 450 Tacoma, WA 98402 US