The Benefits of Pilates for Seniors

I feel like I maintain my health pretty well for a gal of my age, but lately, I’ve been discovering that the workouts I used to do are a little too … vigorous for me. All that jumping around I used to do is no longer possible (unless I want to risk breaking a hip or dislocating a knee).

At first, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t do my favorite high-impact exercise routines anymore. I was under the impression that without jumping around like a maniac, I wouldn’t be able to achieve a high calorie burn. Boy was I ever wrong! I’ve discovered a new workout that gets my sweat dripping without my feet ever leaving the ground at the same time. It’s called Pilates.

I know, I know, Pilates is nothing new. But it’s one of those classic workouts that many of us have abandoned because we somehow thought it was old-fashioned or less effective than doing 50 burpees within a 10-minute time span. Thankfully, I have rediscovered why Pilates is so great and so effective for those of us with “advanced age.” Here are some of the top benefits of Pilates for seniors.

It Increases Flexibility and Strength

Try bending down and touching your toes. If this is hard for you to do, or if you only get as far as your knees, you could benefit from Pilates. With an emphasis on controlled movements and small ranges of motion, Pilates is very effective at increasing flexibility while also boosting your strength.

It Improves Mobility

Mobility is a little bit different from flexibility. Mobility primarily involves the major joints you use to get around and perform everyday actions. If you’re anything like me, you probably feel a little stiff in the hips, back, and knees.

Unfortunately, when you’re struggling with mobility, the tendency is to want to restrict your movements as much as possible because it hurts to move. But being sedentary will only make mobility issues worse. Pilates, on the other hand, gently guides your body through a variety of movements that can help improve mobility and get blood flow to key joints that might otherwise remain stiff.

It Is Gentle and Easy to Modify

Unlike high-impact workouts or HIIT routines, Pilates is gentle on the body and won’t tax your joints. It’s also easy to modify Pilates movements to fit your unique fitness and flexibility levels. One of the things I love most about Pilates is that it has virtually no impact. It’s also appropriate for individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions commonly experienced by seniors.

It Helps Prevents Falls

If you’re prone to falling, don’t underestimate the importance of a good Pilates routine. Pilates improves core strength, posture, and balance so you’re less likely to fall. It can also strengthen the core and legs so you’re steadier on your feet and have the muscular strength to hold yourself upright.

It Makes You Feel Good!

One of my favorite Pilates benefits is the way I feel after a workout. Once I learned that exercise doesn’t have to be painful, it became much easier for me to stay active and maintain my physical health into my senior years. Exercising releases feel-good hormones, including endorphins that give us energy and help us avoid depression and mood swings.

If you aren’t yet convinced that Pilates is right for you, give it a try! You have nothing to lose and a new favorite workout to gain. Try finding a Pilates class at a gym near you or simply turn on your TV and find a Pilates class on YouTube that you can complete in the comfort of your own home. Your body will thank you!

6 Reasons Why I Keep a Health Journal ( Every Senior Should)

A health journal is exactly what it sounds like: a diary for recording information about your health. Writing in it doesn’t take long, and the benefits are amazing. Aging doesn’t have to be some big mystery. Journaling about your health is like having a map to guide you to personal wellbeing.

1. Alleviates Inflammation and Pain

Some foods, movements or lifestyle habits make pain and inflammation worse. There are also good foods, such as turmeric, that have powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects for many seniors. The key is to figure out what helps and hurts you personally. That’s where your health diary comes in.

2. Teaches You What Your Body Likes

I’m a big believer in listening to your body. By keeping a health journal, you can find out if certain things are triggering mood changes, anxiety, pain or sleep problems. You can also discover positive triggers that help you sleep better, feel happier and stay healthier. For example, if you notice that valerian tea helps you sleep like a baby, then you’ve discovered an important secret for your health!

3. Makes You Happier

Natural foods and positive activities have the power to improve your mood. Many people feel less stressed or depressed when they follow a Mediterranean diet of fresh fish, lean meats, olive oil, fruit, herbs and lots of leafy green veggies. Exercising — even if it’s just going for a walk in the morning — can be another key to feeling happy and energized. Your health journal keeps track of things that help you wake up with a smile.

4. Helps You Make Smart Decisions About Your Health

I love my health journal. It turns me into a detective. After a few weeks or months, I can see “clues” that warn me when something is going to make my body hurt, make me irritable, or mess with my immune system. That way, I can avoid many of the aches and pains that are supposedly “normal” in aging.

5. Keeps You in Control of Aging

I don’t like it when people make decisions for me without asking me first, and I really don’t like feeling helpless. That’s what’s amazing about journaling. It gives you a measure of control over your health. Your family history may not let you avoid gout completely, but you can definitely figure out ways to have fewer gout attacks and better mobility.

6. Makes It Easier for Your Doctor To Pinpoint Health Problems

Always take your health diary with you when you have a doctor’s appointment. The details in there can help your doctor discover the underlying cause for symptoms. For example, instead of instantly responding to a rise in blood pressure with medication, the doctor may see lifestyle clues that you can change instead.

An Easy Way to Journal About Your Health

Keeping a health journal doesn’t need to be complicated. Some people prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper. Others use modern smartphone apps to make things easier. What should you keep track of?

  • Foods you eat (including snacks)
  • Vitamins or supplements
  • Medications
  • Amount of water you drink
  • Sleep quantity and quality
  • Exercise
  • Illnesses or health problems
  • Pain or inflammation
  • Energy levels
  • Mood
  • Digestive health and/or bowel habits

Don't forget to include details about surgeries or new treatments. Whatever works for you, I highly recommend getting into the habit of journaling about your health. It can help you stay active and feel great as you get older!