The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and you are itching to shake off the winter fog. Spring is the perfect time to cast off the winter blues and get moving again, and how better to do so than with some spring exercises designed to make you healthy and strong? While the workouts below are by no means an exhaustive list, we’ve got a few suggestions on how you might start your spring on an active foot.
The benefits of staying active cannot be overstated. Doing so strengthens the heart and lungs, gives a body more energy, and staves off conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It also improves sleep, both the quality and the ability to drift off in the first place. Consistent exercise has been shown to improve muscle strength and bone density, which is especially meaningful in women over the age of 55 because losing bone density is common after menopause.
Because staying active strengthens muscles and improves balance, it serves as a preventative against falling and subsequent potentially serious injuries. Regular exercise doesn’t just improve your overall physical state but your mind as well. This duality results in increased independence. Seniors who are consistently active have an easier time walking, bathing, dressing, cooking, eating, and using the restroom without assistance.
As you explore the right spring exercises for you, remember that everyone is different. We’ve listed four kinds of exercise you might try, but depending on your mobility and comfort level, you might try less or more. Pilates and cycling are two more low-impact forms of exercise that focus on stability and strength in the core and legs, respectively, and if you love to dance, you might try getting your exercise in that way.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
As the weather warms up, we recommend you hit the pool for your spring exercises. Exercising in the water provides support while simultaneously offering natural resistance. This means you can set aside the additional weights. Swimming and water aerobics are ideal even in the midst of arthritis because they are low-impact. These two spring exercises can improve flexibility, strength, and balance with minimal stress on your body. The water aerobics exercises for seniors we recommend include flutter kicking, leg lifts, aqua jogging, arm curls, and standing water push-ups.
Walking is a great spring exercise because it doesn’t require any special equipment or facility. It also doesn’t need to be structured: you set the pace and the duration. Take a friend or your dog or just drink in your surroundings and the flowers blooming around you. If you are concerned about staying upright, a walker or a cane can help make up for any deficiency in balance. Walking is effective cardio that isn’t too abrasive on the joints.
Walking out in nature adds a new element. Walking a mountain trail or along the lake challenges the body’s spatial awareness. This makes walking out in the beautiful spring weather ideal for improving agility and balance. If you can be among trees, studies have found that “forest bathing” (spending time in pockets of trees and breathing in the rich air there) can reduce stress.
If you want to feel like a young and free-spirited resident of Portland or Seattle, try yoga (and avocado toast). Yoga is a low-impact way to improve muscle strength and balance and flexibility while putting less stress on joints. If you want to get on the spring exercise train, take your yoga mat out to the grass. Each pose has varying levels of difficulty, so if you’re just starting out, it is still easy to follow along. If you have concerns about balance, many poses have variations that can be done while sitting. Here are just a poses we recommend:
- overhead shoulder stretch
- cat stretch
- cow stretch
- mountain pose
- seated twist
Resistance bands are stretchy rubber strips that add resistance to your workouts without adding stress on your body. They are very good for at-home exercising because they are beginner-friendly and can be combined with many different exercises. Using a resistance band while working out can improve posture and strengthen the arms and core, which helps prevent muscle loss. When you first begin incorporating a resistance band, start small and allow yourself to build up strength. Some of our favorite spring exercises using a resistance band include bicep curls, leg and triceps presses, and lateral raises.