As gyms and recreational centers shutter around the nation due to COVID-19, staying physically active has become challenging for many people, especially seniors and veterans.

However, fitness centers are not the only way for seniors to stay active. Low-intensity routines such as chair yoga, in particular, can provide a safe way for seniors to do either on their own or in a safe group setting.

A COVID Exercise Success Story

With many senior communities in Florida temporarily closed due to COVID-19, one Florida citizen decided to take matters into her own hands and make sure that her community provided seniors with a safe way to continue exercising.

Helene Slosberg of Boynton Beach started a yoga class in her yard with a focus on yoga postures that can be performed sitting down. Many seniors lack the physical stamina to stand for long periods, while some are physically unable to stand at all. Using a chair provides a means for seniors in poor physical health to participate as well.

Before the pandemic hit, Slosberg taught yoga classes at various gyms and studios around the Boynton Beach area. Once the virus hit, Slosberg still felt it necessary to keep teaching.

“In the beginning of April, when all of the clubhouses and gyms closed, I decided to teach chair yoga to my neighbors, for free, in front of my house, as a way to give back to the community,” Solsberg said. 

While Slosberg does not require those who take her class to wear a mask, she does institute social distancing requirements. Participants also must bring their own chairs. A folding chair works perfectly fine for the class. Classes are capped at 15 participants to make sure classes can meet the distancing measures.

Using the chair means that the class can be tailored to many different ability levels. Not everyone can use a mat and get up and down off the ground. Using a chair allows all skill levels to engage in class. Helene keeps her classes focused on stretching and flexibility.

Slosberg takes no payment for her classes. She tells those who want to offer her money to save it. She would prefer her payment to come later by these individuals coming and taking her classes at gyms and clubs once they reopen. 

Importance of Exercise For Seniors

Exercise is crucial for all age groups. Seniors are no exception. The CDC states that regular exercise is vital for seniors to reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones. Regular exercise is also crucial for seniors in preventing diabetes, colon cancer, and a whole host of other diseases. 

Depending upon their health level and other medical conditions, seniors should get approximately 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. This is roughly 30 minutes per day. 

Fitness classes also serve another purpose for seniors. These classes allow them the chance to socialize. Lack of socialization is a real problem in the senior citizen community.

Regular socialization for seniors helps prevent a wide variety of health problems. Depression caused by isolation or loneliness has been recognized as a health issue for seniors. Increased levels of socialization also help reduce levels of anxiety in this age group. Regular get-togethers, such as workout classes, help this population avoid many of these problems. 

Alice Alper has been taking Helene Slosberg’s classes and has enjoyed the opportunity for socialization. 

“I’ve spoken with my friends who have been doing nothing during the day. They’re so bored. I’m not bored at all,” she said. 

Exercise Options for Seniors

Health or physical conditions can prevent a senior from engaging in a full range of exercises. Using a chair to sit on during an exercise routine can help facilitate a wider range of movement.

Lisa Stuebing of Seattle’s Mud Puddle Fitness has some suggestions for seniors to keep them moving during this time, even for those with mobility issues and back pain.

She recommends any exercise that helps with fundamental movements such as just standing up and stretching. This can be done during commercial breaks while watching tv.

Local communities in Seattle also have Zoom fitness classes, which she encouraged her clients to join.

Keeping Seniors Active

Exercise is important for all age groups, but it is crucial for seniors. Given the current pandemic, communities should make sure there are socially distanced activities for their residents. Also, ensure that seniors know about any online workout channels that could help them during this time.

Fitness and socialization are crucial components of a person’s physical and mental health, especially in the senior population.

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