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Staying Physically and Mentally Fit

Apr 27, 2021 | Health & Wellness

Staying healthy is not just about being physically fit, you need to be mentally fit as well. Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand, at any age. And there are so many ways you can do both. Joint-friendly exercises and activities to keep your mind sharp.

There are so many benefits to staying active. There have been countless studies conducted and constant research on the importance of getting exercise and keeping your mind active.

Here are some helpful tips and ways to stay sharp. Always check with your doctor before attempting new exercises; some might be more harmful than helpful. 

older woman doing yoga

Yoga. One of the best things about yoga is that you only need your body and a mat. There are many options for seniors when it comes to yoga. It is gentle on the joints, not a lot of equipment is needed, and yoga can be done virtually anywhere. If the local yoga studio doesn’t have a class designated for seniors, try a beginners class. There are also many resources online, like YouTube, that will have options.

Puzzles. These are a great way to work on critical thinking and stimulate the mind. It can be jigsaw puzzles, sudoku, crossword puzzles, or logic puzzles. These activities keep the brain active and improve memory.

person walking a dog

Get a dog. Owning a dog forces you to be more active. Taking your furry friend to the park and for walks. You get to work on your health and get some fresh air. It’s a win-win for everyone. Being a dog owner has some mental health benefits as well. It can reduce stress, alleviate loneliness, and ease depression.

Learn a new hobby. A study was conducted on older adults to learn the cognitive effects of learning new hobbies. The result was the participants in the new hobbies had a better memory than those who participated in social activities. So don’t be timid at learning something new, the pros outweigh the cons. Learning a new hobby can keep you both mentally and physically fit.

Join a gym. Some gyms offer discounts for senior citizens and have designated fitness classes for them. It’s a bonus if the gym has a pool and offers water aerobics. Exercising in the water adds resistance without putting any added pressure on the joints. If water-based classes aren’t available, swimming a few laps is a great alternative. 

Strength training is also highly beneficial. You don’t need to lift heavy weights to gain muscle, a one or two-pound dumbbell might be just as sufficient. Strength training doesn’t have to be done just at the gym, it can be done at home and while sitting. Strength training has also been known to aid in a better night’s sleep and improve balance.

older man lifting weights

Read. Being an avid reader improves cognitive functions, such as improved memory and reading social cues. According to Psychology Today, there’s a study that suggests actively reading in your older years can reduce the signs of dementia. Reading outdoors can be incredibly relaxing.

This can be just a starting point. Try small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and incorporating it into your everyday routine. And keep it fun. Go on walks with your family at the park or join a fitness class with some friends. Staying physically active can reduce the chance of a stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and improves your mood and mental health. 

There are four main types of exercises older adults should focus on: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The CDC explains how much physical activity is needed in older adults as well as a guide for strength training. If anything doesn’t feel right during these activities, stop and consult with your doctor. 

Be safe and have fun!

San Antonio Seniors