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Four group exercise activities for older adults and seniors

11 April, 2019
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Physical activity isn’t just for millennials in yoga pants but has health benefits for Australians of all ages. It can control weight and blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, help with joint pain and make you feel better mentally (Health Direct).

However, getting into exercise is easier said than done - it’s a cliched unsuccessful New Year’s resolution for a reason. So what better way to get involved than to do it with your friends? That way exercise isn’t just a means to get healthy, but a chance to spend time with the people who matter, catching up, chatting and laughing while you exercise together!

Take a look at these group exercise ideas for seniors for inspiration on what to do with your friends. But before you try anything, please talk to your GP to ensure it will be right for your needs, or to get advice on how best to participate given your personal circumstances.

1. Dancing

Dancing is a wonderful way to get moving with your friends, with a raft of potential health benefits. Researchers from one particular study found that when older adults participated in dance classes together (ballet in this case), they felt they were more energetic, in better shape, had better posture and flexibility, and were more in control of their bodies.

There were also mental and social benefits to these classes. Participants felt happier and being part of a group meant they could relate to each other better.

How to get started dancing

  1. Look for dance classes near you on Google or in the phone book.
  2. Decide what you and your friends are interested in. Ballet? Ballroom? Something cultural? Salsa is a good one for beginners because the moves are simpler than other forms of dance.

 

2. Swimming

Swimming is a highly accessible activity thanks to the sheer availability of swimming facilities in Australia. This activity also has some important health benefits.

Of particular relevance to many older people, swimming can get your heart rate up without putting the same stress on your body as, say, running (BetterHealth Channel). It also provides a full-body workout, helping build strength and endurance.

From a safety point of view, too, having your friends with you while you swim means you can all look out for each other while in the water.

Water-based activity ideas for seniors

  1. Swimming laps.
  2. Aqua jogging.
  3. Assisted swimming (i.e. swimming laps with the aid of flotation devices).
  4. Stand-up paddle boarding in calm water, e.g. a bay or lagoon. Don’t forget your life jacket!

 

3. Walking

Walking with friends is one of life’s great pleasures, not only getting you out of the house and socialising, but also exploring your area and perhaps seeing new sights. Even better, it’s free!

A moderate amount of regular walking can strengthen muscles, lower your risk of heart disease, strengthen bones, reduce blood pressure and improve balance (BetterHealth Channel).

Walking ideas for seniors

  1. Visit somewhere you’ve never been before.
  2. Walk to your regular errands instead of driving.
  3. Blend a hobby with walking, for example bird watching.
  4. Find a walking group on the Heart Foundation’s website.

 

4. Lawn bowls

Lawn bowls is a very accessible sport no matter where you live in Australia. In fact, Sports Medicine Australia estimates there are over 500,000 registered lawn bowls members nationwide.

And its health benefits? Well, on top of adding to your overall fitness, lawn bowls can improve coordination, mental wellbeing, confidence and community connectedness (BetterHealth Channel).

Finding a lawn bowls club near you should be easy with Google or your phone book. Here are some important safety tips for before you get stuck in:

Lawn bowls safety tips

  1. Always warm up and stretch before you play.
  2. Cool down after play too, to avoid stiffness.
  3. Consider balance training as well - which can be done at home by yourself or with your friends, too - to help improve your safety for when playing.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/physical-activity-guidelines-for-older-adults
  2. https://www.queenslandballet.com.au/files/files/Queensland%20Ballet%20-%20Balet%20Moves%20for%20Adult%20Creative%20Health%20report%202018.pdf
  3. https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/how-to-get-started-dance
  4. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/swimming-health-benefit
  5. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/water-exercise-seniors#2
  6. https://www.seniorlifestyle.com/5-best-water-aerobics-exercises-seniors/
  7. https://aqualogixfitness.com/senior-water-sports-can-make-exercise-fun/
  8. https://www.supconnect.com/news/why-sup-is-an-ideal-sport-for-seniors
  9. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/Walking-the-benefits-for-older-people
  10. https://www.alegrecare.com/single-post/2018/07/30/5-Ways-to-Have-Fun-While-Walking-with-Seniors
  11. https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/walking/
  12. https://sma.org.au/resources-advice/lawn-bowls/
  13. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/lawn-bowls-health-benefits

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