If you’re an active older adult who’s had a longtime fitness routine, good for you. Those so-called “old-fashioned” exercise trends that have been around for ages, like jumping rope, walking and step aerobics, still get the job done.
But like every routine, it might be time for you to update your types of physical activity (for seniors who are not very physically active, it’s never too late to start). Introducing a new exercise challenges your brain, prevents overuse injuries and helps you beat exercise boredom, among many other benefits.
Here are six new exercise trends that you’ll want to learn about in the new year — some of which you may choose to incorporate into your next workout regimen.
Trend #1: Water aerobics
A study by the National Library of Medicine showed that falls are the leading cause of injury among older Americans. Falls often happen because of issues with balance, lack of lower body strength and joint instability. Water aerobics are an ideal way to improve strength, balance and coordination, all with less overall stress on your joints and muscles. It might be considered the perfect exercise for seniors because of the numerous advantages and lower risk of injury. Consider starting out with these 12 water exercises.
Trend #2: Wearable technology for seniors
Wearable technology is defined as any electronic device or system worn on the body as an accessory, such as a smartwatch or fitness tracker. They can even be embedded in clothing. In terms of wearable technology for seniors specifically, the Apple Watch also has fall detection and emergency SOS features, and can monitor cardiac abnormalities and can track your blood oxygen and sleep health.
Trend #3: Better balance exercises for seniors
As we mentioned in Trend #1, falls are often caused due to balance issues. There are a number of balance exercises for seniors who want to challenge themselves and enhance their fitness regimen. Those exercises include balancing on one leg, one-legged squats and single-leg dead lifts. Many experts recommend engaging in yoga, as it can decrease pain, improve flexibility and increase your strength. The Mayo Clinic also suggests giving tai chi a try, because it can improve balance and lower your fall risk.
Trend #4: Specialized exercise equipment for seniors
If you don’t have a gym membership or are unable to get to the gym frequently, there are lots of options for your home that don’t require a large footprint. If you’re shopping for the best exercise equipment for seniors, look for equipment that matches your fitness abilities and is stable, safe and easy to use and adjust as your fitness level increases. If you’re trying to increase heart health and cardiovascular endurance, equipment like an elliptical, stationary bike or even a treadmill would be a good choice. If back pain is an issue, look for a recumbent exercise bike or rowing machine.
Trend #5: Effective exercises for seniors at home.
Even if you don’t have easy access to a gym, there are plenty of great exercises any senior can do at home that will deliver results. They also don’t require purchasing any exercise equipment: All you need is your own body weight to provide the resistance. Two basic exercises you should do every day include:
The Bridge — Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your arms extended by your sides. Pushing through your feet and bracing your core, raise your bottom off the ground until your hips are fully extended, squeezing your glutes at the top. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Chair squat — Stand in front of the chair with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly out. Hinging at your hips and bending your knees down into a squat until your bottom touches the chair, allowing your arms to extend out in front of you. Push up through your heels and return to the starting position.
Trend #6: Group-focused exercises
After the pandemic, seniors across the country flocked back to group-based exercises because they offer so many benefits, not the least of which is social connection. From pickleball and Pilates to tai chi and aqua aerobics, these classes help ensure that participants reap the physical benefits while feeling a sense of belonging, regardless of fitness level. If you’re more motivated to exercise when others are doing it too, group-focused exercises and classes may be the route for you. If there’s not a fitness center convenient to you that offers group-focused exercises, consider starting your own walking club, cycling club or even a dancing group.
One final trend to consider.
We’ve talked a lot about 2024 exercise trends for seniors, focusing heavily on physical activities for seniors. In fact, “fitness programs for older adults” was #4 in the top 20 worldwide fitness trends for 2023, according to a survey of more than 4,500 health and fitness professionals by the American College of Sports Medicine.
But “fitness” also includes intellectual, social, spiritual, cultural and nutritional fitness, which all contribute to your overall health and wellness. As you look toward a new year, seek out other trends that will broaden your approach to living healthier and happier. You’ll find that you’ll not only feel better physically, but you’ll also feel better holistically. And that’s a positive trend you’ll definitely want to continue.
If you’re looking for a senior living community in Cary, North Carolina, that offers you everything you need to stay active in retirement, learn more about Searstone Retirement Community. Our community offers numerous wellness opportunities that support your overall health and wellness. That includes our engaging programs focused on Eight Dimensions of Wellness, state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor pool and spa and full-time director of resident life & wellness — and more. Ready to learn more about Searstone or how we can support your next steps into an active and enriching retirement experience?