While staying fit should be a prime objective for seniors all year round, there is no denying that warm weather allows for a range of outdoor activities that can make daily fitness more fun in the summer. Here are some of them:
Do aerobics in a pool. You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer to get enormous benefits from exercising in a pool. In fact, you don’t have to swim at all. For example, the simple act of walking in waste-high water is a great muscle-toning exercise. Many gyms and community organizations offer water exercise classes for seniors.
Take early morning walks. A long walk before the temperature gets too high can be an invigorating way to start the day. Do it on your own if you prefer a contemplative experience, or arrange to do it with your spouse or friend. Walking improves circulation, strengthens bones and muscles, supports your joints and may even help avoid dementia, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Tend a garden. It doesn’t sound strenuous, but gardening requires a lot of movement, and uses many different muscles. For seniors who have sufficient range of movement, it is an excellent way to retain strength and flexibility. Gardening also can be a highly social experience. Consult the 126-year-old National Garden Clubs for information about a club in your area.
Ride a bike. It’s said, one never forgets how to ride a bicycle, and that must be true, because according to the AARP, seniors comprise the fastest growing group of cyclists. Health benefits are one of the major reasons for this trend. If bike riding appeals to you, it’s best to stick to parks and streets that have designated bike lanes.
Consider Tai Chi. The ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi Chuan is an exercise that involves a series of relaxed and graceful movements that “have potential for a wide range of benefits” for seniors, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. Those benefits include improved balance, coordination and flexibility, as well as reduced stress. Many non-profit organizations, including some “Ys”, offer Tai Chi classes for seniors. Classes often are conducted in parks in the early morning.
For some other ideas on how to stay socially active outdoors, visit https://thebristal.com/blog/staying-socially-active-part-2/.
Regardless of which summer fitness activities you choose, several basic precautions must be taken to ensure your safety:
- Do not begin any activity without consulting with your doctor to be certain it is appropriate for your current state of health.
- Avoid strenuous activities during mid-day; try to schedule them primarily in the morning before too much heat has built up.
- Stay properly hydrated; take water with you and drink it even if you do not feel thirsty. Also important, avoid alcohol and caffeine, which act as diuretics and eliminate water from the body.
- Put on loose fitting, comfortable clothing, and wear a hat if you will be directly exposed to the sun. Be sure to use a strong sunscreen on all exposed skin.
With these points in mind, take advantage of all the summer activities that make fitness fun!