Staying fit in old age - why sport is so important now


Regular exercise can protect against many age-related complaints and diseases. Just half an hour a day is enough to strengthen the bones, to become more mobile again - and more satisfied. We show you how to train properly and which 7 exercises you can do every day.

Prevent pain and diseases through movement

From about the age of 30, we lose muscle mass continuously. Slowly at first, and more rapidly as we get older. Suddenly we are out of breath faster than we used to be. The movements are not so smooth anymore, the strength decreases and the coordination could also be better.

The good news is that it is up to us to change that. With targeted and regular sports units we can get fitter again and strengthen the body. Just half an hour of fitness a day stops the muscle loss and helps to alleviate or even prevent many age-associated diseases.

Unfortunately, most older people and seniors do not exercise enough. They sit too much, take the car too often or always perform the same movements. They also lack fresh air. This promotes many (widespread) diseases and impairs physical and mental well-being. With a special training for older people they stay in shape.

Senior fitness minimizes or prevents age-related diseases such as:

  • Venous diseases
  • Dementia
  • Heart Diseases
  • Back Pain
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss can be slowed down)
  • Stress and dejection
  • Infections
  • Falls (the risk of falling is reduced through muscle build-up and better coordination)

This is the best way to train in old age

An effective workout for older people should target all muscles and keep joints supple. It should not be too strenuous and should not overburden those exercising. Focus on flowing movements and simple sequences of movements (especially important for untrained people).

Which sports are suitable for seniors?

  • Dancing
    If you feel fit enough for it and would like to release an extra portion of endorphins for good mood while training, dancing is just the right thing for you.

  • Go for a walk
    Replace car rides with a short walk as often as possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for long walks - as quickly as possible and as pleasant as possible for you and preferably in nature. This not only increases stamina, but also lifts your spirits.

    Hiking, cycling and swimming are also demanding hobbies that you can regularly pursue to improve your condition, balance and muscle strength.

  • Gardening
    If you have a garden, you can strengthen yourself by mowing the lawn, weeding and pruning the plants. Do everything that you enjoy and that challenges you easily to intensively.

    It is better to avoid heavy lifting or working too one-sidedly (for example, hours of leaf raking in autumn). Otherwise, you risk severe sore muscles or even pain in the following days.

  • Yoga, Qigong and Tai-Chi
    The flowing movements of these sports are ideal for the elderly and inexperienced. The risk of injury is low and the movements are easy to imitate with a little practice.

    On top of that, yoga, tai chi and qigong also have a meditative component: they reduce stress, take away anxiety and ensure greater well-being. A gentle and less dynamic variant of yoga is recommended. Here you can find out which yoga style suits you best.

Strengthen, stretch, protect - with these 7 exercises you stay fit

The right gymnastics program makes you more agile and stronger. Swing, pendulum and rotation exercises are particularly suitable for building up muscles and keeping joints flexible.

A small tip: For some tasks it is helpful to have a stable chair at hand. Then you can hold on to it and do everything more smoothly and easily - and, depending on your fitness level, avoid falls.

  • Foot rocker
    Just stand easy. Now lift up both heels. Repeat this 15 times. Then stand again and lift all toes. Repeat 15 times.

  • Make wrist mobile
    Turn and rotate your wrists until they become loose. Now stretch one arm in front of you, palm facing outwards. Then press against it with your other, flat palm from the front to stretch your hand and fingers back a little. The best way to do this is to reach to the side. Hold for 15 seconds. Then switch hands.

  • Side bend
    Stand with your legs apart, hands on your hips. Bend to the right, hold briefly, then bend to the left, hold briefly, and again to the right, etc. - for about one to two minutes. Correct execution: Legs should stand firmly on the floor, upper body should not fall forward or backward, movements should flow.

  • Arm circles
    Stretch your arms upwards and let them circle around your body. Sometimes both forwards, then both backwards, then also in the opposite direction - one forwards, one backwards. Just like in gym class.

  • Leg circling
    Stand behind a chair and hold on with both hands. Spread one leg to the side, put it down slowly but without touching the floor. Repeat this 10 times, then switch legs. One extension is circling: Now spread one leg to the side and draw a small figure eight with your leg in the air. Repeat this 10 times, then change the leg.

  • Lunge steps
    Stand shoulder width apart and take a large lunge forward with one leg. The knee of the other leg should not touch the ground. Back and head are ideally straight. Stand up again and repeat with the other leg. 10 lunges per leg.

  • Squats
    Those who can, do this exercise without being supported by a chair. Kneel down and keep your back and head upright. If possible, when bending your knees, walk with your buttocks far back as if you were sitting on a stool, instead of sticking your knees far forward, putting unnecessary strain on your knee joints. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

How often and how much should you exercise?

Exercise is good for you. Exercise whenever you can, preferably every day, but at least every two days.

A simple daily sports schedule could look like this: You do something for your endurance for a quarter of an hour, for example, brisk walking, cycling, swimming or dancing. And on the same day, you plan another 15 minutes for gymnastics exercises for strong muscles.

It is important for all sports exercises to be performed calmly and with concentration. At the same time, you should also feel that they are doing something. In other words: you notice that your muscles are working. You get a little out of breath (but please do not get into compressed breathing). Or you sweat a little. This is good! Your body is challenged.

If the sports units are too easy for you, increase the number of repetitions or try more exercises.

The right diet for the elderly

In order to feel healthy and well, besides plenty of exercise and invigorating fitness exercises, a diet rich in vitamins and vital substances is essential.

Those who do not take in enough minerals and vitamins risk a lack of nutrients. The most common nutrient deficiencies include magnesium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency (especially in the dark season), calcium deficiency, iron deficiency and a lack of B vitamins. Here you can read how to detect a nutrient deficiency and how to refill your nutrient stores.

The sun vitamin D is very important for us. Especially in winter, many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Mushrooms, fatty fish or food supplements reliably help to supply the essential vitamin D. The vitamin is involved in many metabolic processes and can support the bones and teeth.

Also always a good idea on the menu: high-fat fish, linseed oil, avocados, chia seeds and walnuts. This is because the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids found in them are vital. They support normal functioning of the brain, heart and vision.