How seniors can stay safe while staying fit


Just about anyone, despite age, can reap meaningful benefits from exercising. Older adults can be active, even with a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis. But whether the senior has been exercising for a lifetime or is starting a new activity after having been active for a long time, it’s always important to know how to stay safe while staying fit.



Tips to help seniors staying safe while exercising

To play it safe and reduce the risk of injury, the senior should:

  • Begin the exercise program slowly with low-intensity exercises.
  • Wear clothes and shoes appropriate for the activity and the temperature of the environment.
  • Don’t exercise outside if it is either very hot or very cold.
  • Warm up before exercising, and cool down afterward.
  • Pay attention to surroundings when exercising outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the workout session, even if the senior to not feel thirsty.
  • If you have specific health conditions, discuss your exercise and physical activity plan first with your physician.

Overall, the senior should maintain a steady rate of progress with his or her exercise program. Over-exercising can cause injury, which might also lead to giving up on exercising.

Being safe with each type of exercise

There are four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. It’s important to know how to stay safe with each type.

Endurance. The senior should listen to his or her body. Breathing may become faster, but the senior should still be able to talk.

Strength. A safer way to to do strength exercises is to use the weight of one’s body to exercise, rather than using weights. If you use weights, be sure to make sure that you can safely lift the weight. Start with smaller weights, and slowly work up to heavier ones. If the senior is using a chair for strength exercises, be sure that the one used is sturdy.

Balance. The senior should either use a sturdy chair or hold on to a person during balance exercises, especially if the senior feels unsteady.

Flexibility. A senior should walk for a few minutes to warm up before doing any stretching exercises. Take the exercises slow, and don’t force them.

In all cases, a senior should not exercise alone. There should always be another adult that can assist the senior if necessary. The senior can also consider having an “exercise buddy,” who can not only ensure safety but also help motivate the senior to stay active and offer fun camaraderie.

Always check with your healthcare provider

An older adult might have conditions that contradict some forms of exercise. Seniors should always check with their physician before starting any exercise routine to make sure it is safe.


Some information courtesy of the the National Institute on Aging at NIH.

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