Seniors are the least active age group in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report. When seniors become inactive, it can lead to a greater risk of degenerative diseases and also a greater risk of falling and loss of mobility. Exercise plays a key role in preventing this and exercising in a group is an effective way to encourage continued activity. Seniors can exercise in groups or classes to help build strength, maintain mobility, and increase cardio endurance.
Water Exercise Classes
The water is a great place for senior group exercise classes. In the water, they are able to move more freely, due to the buoyant nature of the water, and they have less pressure on their joints. Exercises such as lunges, jumping jacks and squats can be done with greater ease when in the water. The body feels lighter, so it is easier to move, and there is no pounding of feet and jarring of joints. Even though the exercises may seem easier, seniors will still build strength, which most of them are at risk of losing.
Using a cushioned surface, such as an exercise mat, is a good idea for senior group exercises. The mat offers cushioning for bones and joints. Being close to the ground helps reduce the risk of falling due to any balancing issues. Yoga, Pilates and general core strengthening are all gentle exercise options that lengthen the muscles, increase range of motion in the joints and maintain or build strength. The exercises can also be modified to meet the needs of the participants.
Seated Chair Exercises
Not only are chair exercises effective for building strength in the arms, legs and core, they are also effective for building aerobic endurance. In a chair, the body is supported, so seniors are able to do exercises that they might not otherwise be able to do while standing. Exercises such as knee lifts, arm reaches or torso twists involve some of the major muscle groups in the body. These exercises not only add strength, they also increase heart rate, thus making chair exercises an aerobic exercise. Chair exercises are good to do in groups, because the leader may add as many chairs or participants as is necessary.
For most seniors, balancing on two legs can become an issue. In a group setting, seniors can work on building their balance. Using the back of a chair, a countertop, ballet barre or other waist-high surface helps them practice balancing exercises while reducing the risk of falling by having these to hold onto. Because many seniors struggle with their balance, they may find it helpful to improve their balance while working alongside others who have a similar challenge.
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