Whether you like summer weather or not, there’s no argument that it can get hot. Even though working up a sweat is good for all of us, seniors have to make sure they don’t develop heat exhaustion.
“As we get older, our bodies don’t regulate heat as well, which means that seniors are much more susceptible to heat-related injuries and issues,” says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley. “A lot of medications also increase sensitivity to heat, which packs a one-two punch for older adults. We all know that staying active and getting exercise is important for healthy aging, but when we’re in the thick of the summer months, this can be hard to do safely.”
Being outside has lots of excellent benefits, such as fresh air, Vitamin D and opportunities for socializing. But if you’re trying to stay fit this summer, Kristine suggests balancing outdoor activities with indoor summer fitness regimes.
“Exercising outside isn’t impossible for seniors, but unless you live in a temperate area, you’ll either be exercising very early or very late in the day,” she says. “Instead, take this time to try some new forms of exercise – you may find a new favorite option.”
What activity is more “summer” than swimming? Now that pools are beginning to reopen, consider swimming laps or taking water aerobics classes to get a workout and stay cool. Check with your local community or recreation center that may have senior-specific classes. Water aerobics is a great exercise for seniors because it offers great resistance and aerobic activity without too much pressure or strain on joints. It also increases flexibility, improves heart and lung function, builds strength and helps with balance.
Gyms are another great place to get a workout in a controlled (and cool) environment. Just like pools, gyms are starting to reopen, so check into various options in your area. SilverSneakers is a Medicare Advantage program that offers memberships and classes that are specifically designed for the 62+ crowd. You can also look at senior centers and community centers in your area to see if they offer any senior-centric programs or options.
A brisk walk in the heat? Not always so refreshing. A brisk walk through the mall in air conditioning? It’s a long-standing favorite for many seniors. Check into walking groups in your area on Meetup.com or Facebook Groups. Many malls will offer early hours when the mall itself is open but the stores are still closed – making it the perfect option for long-distance walking without worrying about crowds. Be sure to invest in some good sneakers.
Biking is a popular hobby for many people, but sometimes it can be too hot to handle during the summer months. That’s why many seniors turn to stationary bikes for a great low-impact activity that boosts cardiovascular health. Many gyms have spin or indoor cycling classes if you don’t have a stationary bike of your own. If you have your own wheels, you can buy a stand that can temporarily convert a regular bike into a stationary bike.
Yoga is one of the all-around best full-body exercises seniors – and anyone else – can do. Yoga and other mind-body practices like tai chi help build muscle tone, improve balance and boost your mood when done daily. There are always classes offered at studios and gyms throughout your community (some that are specific to seniors’ needs, like chair yoga). But you don’t need any fancy memberships or equipment to get started with yoga. There are countless online yoga videos and classes that you can use to start your journey, from complete novice to expert level.
Balance exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, and are excellent for helping seniors improve balance and muscle tone to prevent falls. You can do these easy exercises when you’re standing in the kitchen, standing in line, during commercial breaks when watching TV … they really couldn’t be easier. Here are two sample exercises you can do daily to help greatly reduce your risk of falling.
- Walk across the room in a straight line, walking heel to toe. Use a nearby wall to support yourself if you need a little extra assistance. When you reach the other wall, turn around and head back. Do five full reps.
- Alternate standing on one foot, then the other, for between 10 to 20 seconds. Hold on to the back of a chair or a countertop if you need additional support. Do five reps. Increase the time you hold as you become stronger.
Like balance exercises, resistance training can be done while you’re watching TV or when you have five minutes to spare. You can purchase resistance bands that are specifically designed for these exercises, but you don’t need them – you can use your own body weight to build muscle. Here are a few exercises you can start with:
- Push-ups (on the floor or against the wall)
- Leg squats (hold on to a chair or counter for support)
- Crunches or sit-ups (you don’t have to come all the way up – simply lift your shoulders off the ground to start with)
- Slowly sitting down on a chair and then standing back up without using your hands for support
Video game consoles like the Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation aren’t just for the grandkids. These days, many seniors can get fit and have fun playing activities that are specifically designed to get your blood pumping and your body moving.
Before starting any exercise regime, talk to your doctor. He or she may have suggestions on what exercises you should start (or shouldn’t be doing). Always be sure to stretch beforehand, and go slow at first – the last thing you want to do is tax yourself and end up causing an injury. Remember, it’s easy to get dehydrated, especially in the summer, so be sure to drink plenty of water and give yourself a chance to cool down.
For more information about how Waterstone at Wellesley supports health and well-being for seniors, please contact us at 781.235.1614.
Beautiful Riverfront Community
Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.
Celebrating Dynamic Living
Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.
Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.
Confidence of Care
The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.
For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.235.1614.