The gym atmosphere intimidates people of all ages, but seniors are particularly skittish. More comfortable in sweats than spandex, they don’t want to look silly or have members judge them. Blaring, pounding music in exercise class is another turnoff. But no worries! It’s easy to find a senior friendly gym or fitness program, so get ready to exercise.
Health Benefits of Exercise
Even a little exercise brings big health benefits, and it’s one big reason to choose a medical alert system that works outside the home.
- Cognitive: Exercise is good for the brain no matter what your age, but is particularly beneficial for seniors. Regular activity helps lower the risk of dementia in older adults – even if they weren’t active when younger.
- Mobility: It’s risky to “take it easy” later in life. Inactivity causes muscle loss, affects balance, and can make chronic health problems worse. Regular exercise helps keep joints and muscles flexible, stronger, and less susceptible to injury so seniors can stay active and independent.
- Psychological: Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers. It improves sleep and increases feelings of self-confidence.
- Social: Many seniors struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Group exercise classes are a great way to meet new people: you already have something in common! Seniors with robust social networks tend to be healthier and have better outcomes after illness.
You don’t need a gym to exercise. A brisk walk in the park with human or canine friends is a wonderful way to keep fit. Some people, however, prefer structured exercise programs and the camaraderie that comes from exercising in a group.
Find an Affordable Senior Friendly Gym in Your Area
Insurance companies and Medicare both realize that healthier people cost less money to insure. They’ve teamed with for-profit fitness centers, recreation centers, and other locations to offer affordable senior friendly gym memberships and exercise programs.
- Silver Sneakers calls itself “fitness for boomers and beyond.” More than 60 health plans nationwide offer it as a no-cost benefit for customers. More than 13,000 locations offer a variety of options, from cardio to yoga to water fitness classes, all with certified instructors. Members also have access to all gym facilities.
- Enhance Fitness is a community-based exercise program that mainly utilizes senior centers, recreation centers, and similar resources. The low-cost program focuses on cadiovascular health, balance, flexibility, and strength training.
- Active Choices is a personalized program offered in 13 states. There’s an initial face-to-face consultation with a health educator to discuss the senior’s exercise preferences and goals. Later sessions are conducted by phone. Researchers say it’s a good option for seniors who don’t have access to structured exercise classes. The regular contact helps keep them motivated and on track.
AARP’s age-friendly facility and services locator can help you locate a nearby senior friendly gym or exercise program.
If there are no structured senior friendly programs near you, look for a local YMCA. The family-friendly atmosphere welcomes people of all ages and fitness levels. There are also specialty fitness centers that cater to specific demographics: women-only or senior-only gyms, for instance.
Exercise helps boost health and longevity. One study found that 30 minutes a day could increase lifespan by as much as five years. Exercise helps you sleep better, feel better, think more clearly, make new friends, and live longer. “Get healthy” or “exercise regularly” are common New Year’s resolutions that get discarded long before Valentine’s Day. This year, keep that resolution and start a program today.
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