Healthy Aging

Exercises for Seniors Outside the Fitness Center

Amarita Bansal
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Senior fitness doesn’t have to come from inside the gym. Use these exercise ideas to reinvigorate your workout.

Fitness doesn’t have to be synonymous with going to the gym. There are a variety of creative ways to stay active and build your strength, balance, endurance and flexibility outside of a fitness center. To find an activity that will get you moving and keep your interest, start with your favorite hobby or daily routine, whether it’s a walk to get your morning coffee, gardening or a daily swim.

For more ideas, consider these out-of-the-gym fitness activities to get your heart pumping and your mind excited about exercise:

Golf

Playing golf is a good way to keep your body fit and mind alert. Practicing your golf swing may not only improve your short game, it could expand your range of motion and flexibility. According to Joe DeBock, head golf professional at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif., swinging a club works out your whole body. “Hitting just a small bucket a day keeps you loose and limber,” says DeBock.

There’s also the added perk of spending some quality time outdoors, what DeBock calls “the beauty of golf.” As he puts it, “A lot of the great golf courses are in resort areas or wildlife preserves or forests, or alongside oceans.”

While you enjoy the scenery, you can also burn some serious calories. Over the course of an 18-hole course—about a five-mile walk—players who carry their clubs can burn up to 2,000 calories, and those who drive a cart can burn up to 1,300, according to a report published by the Walker Research Group.

Yoga

Yoga is not just for the young and trendy—it can be a great, low-impact workout for seniors, too. Time spent in yoga class isn’t just beneficial to the body, but also can promote better mental health. “I believe regular yoga and stretching practice is one of the most important keys to longevity,” says Joan Moran, who has been a yoga and meditation instructor at University of California, Los Angeles for more than a decade.

According to Moran, the health benefits of yoga include:

  • Maintaining bone density
  • Increased balance—which can help prevent falls
  • Improved respiration
  • Heightened focus and awareness
  • Reduced stress

Aqua Zumba

This fitness craze melds the Latin-inspired aerobics class Zumba with traditional water fitness, providing an energizing group fitness workout that boosts cardio levels and tones the body. This Zumba “pool party” also strengthens core muscles through movements like hamstring curls, side shuffles and hip twists.

According to Mary Mandawe, director of physical therapy at Workmen’s Circle MultiCare Center in Bronx, New York, Aqua Zumba can be a beneficial exercise for those who have undergone hip or knee replacement. “Most of the body weight is displaced in the water. Thus, your knees, hips and back undergo less pounding when doing Aqua Zumba [compared to exercise outside water],” says Mandawe. “Your muscles will work in different ways as you deal with the resistance of the water rather than gravity.”

Publication Date: October 15, 2013
 
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