6 Easy and Safe Exercises for Seniors
Have you been thinking that you need to exercise more but you don’t know where to start?
Participating in regular physical activity will help you:
– maintain your muscle mass
– increase your bone density
– improve your balance, posture and flexibility
– have better control of chronic disease symptoms
– decrease pain and depression
– prevent falls
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states 28% of the population over the age of 50 are physically inactive. This is a sad fact considering that 4 out of 5 of the most limiting chronic health conditions could be managed or prevented with physical activity.
As you age your heart muscles and arteries can become stiffer. The ligaments surrounding your joints becomes less elastic leading to increased pain and stiffness. Your body also metabolizes food slower which can lead to weight gain.
Throughout the world, the World Health Organization, has linked 3.2 million deaths to not enough physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in the United States for people who are over the age of 65 years.
Not only does exercise help you feel better, but you may also look better and can enjoy a higher quality of life. Exercise helps you continue to do many of the things you love and need to do.
Many seniors are afraid to exercise at home because they are worried they may injure themselves; that is a valid concern.
Exercise is meant to improve your health, not cause you to get hurt. As always, check with your physician before starting any new exercise programs.
Helpful Tip: If you are worried about your safety while trying new exercises, seek a healthcare/fitness professional ahead of time. You both can have fun learning new exercises and you will know somebody is there to help you if you need it.
Nurse Next Door has curated a list of exercises that may be beneficial for seniors. These six user-friendly exercises for seniors to do at home and will focus on the core areas of (click to scroll):
Exercises for Strength
Strength training is not just for bodybuilders! Stronger muscles help you to continue to do all the things you need to do in a day from walking up stairs to getting out of a chair.
Dean Maddalone, a certified strength and conditioning specialist states that you can lose 3-8% of your muscle mass each decade. Strength training increases bone density by 1-3% and reduces your risk of death from heart disease by 41%.
Pretending that you are about to sit down in a chair can strengthen your entire lower body.
- Stand in front of a chair with your feet as far apart as your hips.
- Bend your knees while keeping your shoulders and chest upright.
- Lower your bottom so you sit down.
- Then push your body back up to return to a standing position.
These push-ups can provide strengthening for your entire upper body with a focus on your arms and chest. But you don’t have to get down on the floor and worry about being stuck there!
- Stand in front of a sturdy wall, up to two feet away but as close as you need to.
- Place your hands up against the wall directly in front of your shoulders.
- Keep your body straight and bend your elbows to lean in towards the wall.
- Stop with your face close to the wall and then straighten your arms to push your body away from the wall.
Exercises for Balance
Falls are one of the leading causes of visits to the emergency room. About 30% of people over the age of 65 will fall each year. Often a fall can result in fractures and declining health. Balance helps you to keep yourself on your feet and recover from those accidental upsets.
Single Foot Stand
This exercise is similar to standing like a flamingo but less dangerous.
- Stand behind a steady, unmoveable chair and hold onto the back.
- Pick up your left foot and balance on your right foot as long as is comfortable.
- Place your left foot down and then lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot
You are aiming to be able to stand on one foot without holding the chair for up to a minute.
Tippy Toe Lifts
You can pretend to be a ballerina while strengthening your legs and improving your balance with this exercise.
- Stand beside or behind a chair or counter and place your hands on the surface for support.
- Push yourself up onto your tippy toes as high as is comfortable and then return back to a flat foot. Repeat.
Exercises for Flexibility
Tight and sore muscles make it difficult to do things that were once simple such as pulling up your socks or reaching for something high up. Improving your flexibility helps you maintain good posture and move more freely and easily.
A study published in the International Journal of Physical Therapy found that after 10 weeks of stretching 2-3 times a week, older adults had better spinal mobility, an increased ability to flex their hips and a more steady gait.
Don’t forget that stretching for flexibility should be slow and controlled. Warm up your muscles first by walking and moving. Hold a stretch for up to 30 seconds while you breathe deeply in and out.
Wall Snow Angels
Do you remember plopping down on your back in a patch of freshly fallen snow, sliding your arms and legs up and down to form a perfect “snow angel”?
This exercise helps to open up your chest and to decrease that tightness in the middle of your back that develops as a result of looking down. But you don’t have to fall on your back in the snow to do this “wall angel”!
- Stand about 3 inches away from the wall and place your head and lower back flat against the wall.
- Put your hands at your sides with the palms out and the backs of against the wall.
- Keeping your arms touching the wall, raise them up above your head (or as high as is comfortable).
Repeat a couple times to make some beautiful imaginary wings for your angel.
The Head Turn
One of the simplest and easiest stretches to do! This exercise involves a movement you do whenever you shake your head “no”.
- Stand or sit with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
- Turn your head slowly to the right until you feel a light stretch.
- Hold that position and then turn slowly to the left.
This exercise helps to keep your neck mobile, that’s important for driving and being aware of your surroundings!
Consider going to a local gym for a personal trainer or sign-up for senior-specific exercise classes at your local senior and community center!
Did you know that Nurse Next Door’s caregivers can accompany you to these classes and observe or join the class right alongside you? Learn more about our Companionship services!