Regular exercise is one of the best activities seniors can do to maintain—and enhance—their overall health. Some seniors may resist or fear physical exercise due to chronic health conditions or the potential for injury. The truth is, in most cases, the advantages outweigh the risks as long as the exercise program is appropriate for their physical condition.
Many health benefits exist for seniors who exercise regularly, including:
- Muscle mass maintenance
- Mood and attitude improvement
- Mobility and balance improvement
- Cognitive ability improvement
- Immune system support
- Weight management
- Prevention and management of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes
No Gym, No Worries
Seniors don’t need a gym membership or fancy workout equipment to obtain these health benefits. They can do the following simple exercises in the comforts of home:
Chair exercises can be an alternative for seniors with mobility or standing issues. Chair exercises, performed with a chair and occasionally some light weights, strengthen a wide range of muscles. Good chair exercises to start with include:
Seated front shoulder raises (targets the chest and arms)
Hold a pair of light weights at your side with palms facing toward the body. Sit with your back straight against the backrest of the chair. Keeping your core tight and your chest forward, slowly raise the weights until your arms are parallel to the floor. Then slowly lower your arms to the starting position.
Tummy twists (targets the core)
Sit toward the edge of the seat while keeping your core tight and the chest forward. Hold a medicine ball or similar object of comfortable weight in your lap with one hand on each side and elbows bent. Then, raise the medicine ball a few inches off your lap and rotate your body to the left, while keeping the medicine ball in front of your body. While holding the medicine ball, rotate your body to the middle, to the right, and back to the middle to complete a full repetition.
Chair squats (targets the legs)
Sit toward the edge of the chair to allow for more room to move. Keep your core tight and back straight, make sure your chest is forward. While holding the medicine ball, rotate your body to the middle, to the right, and back to the middle to complete a full repetition. Then, slowly stand up until fully upright while keeping your knees pointed outward. Maintain the same knee orientation and slowly sit down.
Stretches are great for increasing flexibility and relieving joint pain. Many stretches can be done in a chair or even on a bed for seniors with more limited mobility.
Overhead side stretch
Stand straight with feet at hip-width. Raise your arms overhead and gently lean to one side. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, and then return to center. Repeat the stretch on the other side.
Stand with one leg forward and slightly bent, and the other straight behind you. If needed, hold on to a wall or counter for support. Then gently press your rear heel into the floor until you feel your rear calf stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Yoga and Tai Chi
Joining an online yoga or tai chi class is another excellent way for seniors to exercise at home. Yoga and tai chi involve following an instructor through a series of poses while concentrating on breathing and focusing the mind.
Both tai chi and yoga improve balance, strength, and flexibility, but they are slightly different. Yoga focuses on holding poses and is performed standing or on the floor. Tai chi involves more fluid movement from pose to pose and is done standing. Both are great options for seniors.
Whether walking in place at home or taking a stroll around the neighborhood or at a local park, walks are low impact and easy on joints. They also improve cardiovascular health and can be a great way for seniors to get out of the house and socialize.
Before committing to an exercise routine, it’s important to check with your loved one’s doctor to make sure the exercises seniors plan to perform are right for them.
Home Care Can Help Seniors to Exercise
A P&N Vision Home Health Care in-home caregiver can encourage your older loved one to exercise and stay active. Whether serving as a walking partner for strolls around the neighborhood or reminding your senior to do their physician-prescribed exercises, a qualified in-home caregiver will help your loved one take steps to maintain their fitness and quality of life.
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