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Getting more exercise is a perennial priority for many Americans, and seniors are no exception. But older exercisers don’t need to train for a triathlon to reap the rewards of physical activity.
In fact, the CDC recommends older adults get a moderate amount of exercise on a daily basis, either through longer sessions of activities such as walking or shorter sessions of more-intense activity such as stair climbing.

Novice exercisers of any age should consult a doctor before beginning a workout program. But seniors could see several benefits from a regular, age-appropriate routine:

  • increased ability to live independently
  • fewer falls and fractures
  • reduced risks associated with conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes
  • lower blood pressure in people with hypertension
  • improved stamina and muscle strength
  • reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • improved mood and sense of well-being
  • healthier bones, muscles, and joints

Fitness-Themed Gift Of Health

So, regardless of whether the seniors in your life are fledgling fitness devotees or exercise experts, they’ll likely appreciate a health-minded gift of health. Another bonus: there are so many options available that you can find a gift to suit any senior and holiday budget.
For instance, if seniors on your gift list like to keep it simple, why not invest in a new pair of walking shoes along with an easy-to-use pedometer they can use to track their steps? Or maybe you could wrap up a foam roller for stretching, in spite of the fact that the recipient will probably have a good guess as to what’s underneath the pretty paper and ribbon.

And not all gifts come in a box. Social seniors might enjoy learning about a new form of exercise or rediscovering a former favorite. For them, consider classes in yoga, Tai chi, tennis, water aerobics, dance or some other senior-friendly fitness pursuit. You could give classes to a couple, all your favorite aunts in town, or your mom and a fitness-minded friend to encourage accountability and attendance.

Tech-savvy seniors might appreciate gadgets such as activity trackers or tablet computers to help them count calories or record reps at the weight machine. In fact, an increasing number of older Americans are defying the senior stereotype by adopting the latest tech tools. As indicated by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have smartphones, and 67 percent of seniors use the internet. So it’s nothing unexpected there are now fitness apps particularly designed for seniors in mind including Tai Chi for Seniors and Yoga for Seniors & Adults, among others.

Home (Gym) for the Holidays Gift Of Health

A well-rounded routine should include aerobic exercise as well as activities focused on flexibility and balance. Seniors ought to likewise spend time strength training, which improves balance and increases exercisers’ ability to do everyday tasks such as carry groceries and boost themselves off the couch.

The National Institutes on Aging’s Go4Life site suggests seniors try exercises including seated rows or arm curls with a resistance band. Side arm raises and front arm raises with hand weights or kettlebells are other easy upper body strength training moves for exercises of any age. For the lower body, seniors can try using the resistance band in a side step move or a leg lift. In addition to being multifunctional, resistance bands, hand weights, and kettlebells have the added advantage of being affordable and easy to store, making them ideal holiday gifts for seniors setting up their own home gyms.

So, whether the seniors in your life prefer old-school exercise routines or tech-tracked hikes, class camaraderie or solo sweat sessions, there’s a fitness-themed gift for them. And who knows? Their enthusiasm for exercise could inspire the gift giver, too.

After overcoming breast cancer at age 60, Hazel Bridges vowed to never waste another second. Every day, she challenges herself to live life to the fullest, and she aims to inspire other seniors to do so as well. You can read more from Hazel at agingwellness.org

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