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Pilates, cycling top list as best exercises for seniors

June 17, 2013

Along with factors such as diet and social interaction, physical activity is among the most crucial components of healthy aging. However, whether due to arthritis, chronic disease or other obstacles, many older adults do not get as much exercise as they need. In fact, according to the Administration on Aging, only about 38.5 percent of men and 31.1 percent of women between 65 and 74 exercised regularly. Although it can certainly be a challenge for seniors managing health issues to stay physically fit, there are certain activities that are well suited to the needs of an aging population, according to The Huffington Post.

This exercise has become popular among all age groups, but seniors may stand to gain the most from the practice. Pilates focuses largely on building strength, flexibility and agility, all of which play a vital role in helping older adults stride more confidently. In fact, a recent study from Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine found that pilates was a better option for improving balance than Tai Chi and yoga. Combined with the fact that it reduces the stress placed on aging joints, pilates should become a staple of a healthy lifestyle for seniors

Recumbent Bikes
Cycling has long been a go-to exercise for many people, but as they get older, they may find bike seats uncomfortable. Recumbent bicycles, however, have helped solve this problem and according to The Huffington Post, many older adults have jumped on board with the trend. An estimated 10 million Americans ride recumbent bikes, which marks about a 50 percent increase since 1998. Not only can they help improve posture, but the unique cycles can also take pressure off aging joints.

"It was like sitting in a lounge chair," David Lawson, a recumbent bike rider, told AARP. "Before, I was all tensed, with my shoulders to hold up."

Water exercise
Encompassing more than just swimming, water exercise can be a boon for the senior population, according to WebMD. Experts say that aqua aerobic and water-based activities hold significant benefits for older adults, including a boost in strength, better cardiovascular health and increased metabolism. It also slows down age-related muscle mass while avoiding the pounding on the pavement that comes along with  exercises such as walking.