Physical activity is a critical component to healthy aging. Exercise prevents illness and injuries, and lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Medical professionals, nutritionists, and other health care professionals agree that seniors should make physical activity a priority.
Regardless of age, medical history, or the presence of illness and limitations in mobility, all older adults have the capability to performing some type of exercise that will improve their health. Let’s learn about the various exercises that are productive for older adults.
Balance Exercises for the Elderly
The first type of exercise that all older adults should engage in on a regular basis is that which helps to maintain and improve balance.
These activities aid in the prevention of potentially dangerous or deadly falls.
According to statistics, approximately a third of all people over the age of 65 will suffer from a fall that results in immediate injuries. In turn, these injuries could prove highly detrimental in the type and amount of activities that the individual may indulge in and often makes it challenging for them to live in an independent manner.
Balance exercises help to prevent falls in that they improve the senior’s ability to effectively control their body and maintain an upright position.
Below, you will find three balance exercises for the elderly that are easy to perform and highly effective in preventing trips, slips, and falls:
- Heel to Toe – One of the best exercises for optimizing balance is engaging in walking that requires the older adult to place their heel in front of the toes of their opposite foot. To start, the individual should stand and put the heel of one foot in front of the toes on the other foot. It is advised that the heel should be placed as close to the toes as possible. Next, the older adult should focus on an area directly in front of them. The goal should be to walk – heel to toe – to the designated spot, while remaining steady. Each step should take the opposite heel and place it in front of the toes. This should be done for 20 steps, or until the older person requires a break from the exercise.
- One Foot Challenge – The next balance exercise for the elderly is the one-foot challenge. Essentially, the older adult should stand behind a counter or a sturdy chair and grip that item. This helps them to retain their balance. Then, one foot should be lifted and the other foot should remain on the ground. This position should be held for at least ten second and should be performed at least ten times for each leg.
- The Balance Walk – The next exercise that may be performed to improve balance in the elderly is the balance walk. To perform this exercise, the older adult should be instructed to raise both of their arms out to the sides, ensuring they are even with the shoulders. Then, a target should be focused on that is – at least – twenty steps away. The individual should walk towards the target, making sure that one foot is placed in front of the other, with each step taken. When lifting the back leg to move it to the front, the person should count to two before completing the step. This should be done for – at least – twenty steps.
Seated Chair Exercises for Seniors
Age, illness, injuries, and disability often results in the onset of limited mobility in the elderly; however, this does not have to negatively impact the individual’s ability to engage in exercise.
There are several seated chair exercises for seniors that are designed to work the different groups of muscles within the body and provide a boost to the general health of the individual.
Below, we have outlined three of these seated chair exercises for seniors that have a desire to grow stronger and healthier:
- Overhead Arm Raises – This chair exercise is perfect for the senior that needs to enhance the strength of their arms and shoulders. One-pound weights should be held in each hand. The feet should be placed flat on the floor, the back held straight, and the arms bent so that the palms are facing forward. The arms should be raised very slowly over the head, position held for a moment, and then lowered back to the original position. This exercise should be repeated five to ten times.
- Knee Extensions – This exercise is performed to build up the strength of the muscles throughout the legs. The individual should sit near the edge and hold on to both sides of the chair. The back should be straight and the knees bent. Each leg should be extended out and the toes pointed up. Then, it should be lowered to starting position. This should be done up to ten times on each leg.
- Tummy Twist – For seniors that need to strengthen the core muscles, this is an excellent exercise. A ball should be held with both hands, close to the body. The torso should be rotated – first to the left, and then to the middle. Then, once in the middle, the torso should be rotated to the right, back to middle. Five to eight sets of twists are appropriate for a beginner to the exercise.
Strength Exercises for Seniors
Strength exercises help combat age-related muscle loss, optimize the strength of the bones, improves the mobility, helps with physical functioning, prevents falls, and has even be found to help reduce the effects of cognitive decline. The following represents ideal strength exercises for seniors:
- Squats – To perform this exercise, ensure that the older adult has a sturdy chair. Place them in front of the chair and have them cross their arms across their body. Have them bend their knees and push back their hips, while lowering themselves to the chair. Once the buttocks come in contact with the chair, have them stand back up and repeat.
- Lunge – Have the individual stand with the feet apart. Place the hands on the hips and have them step back with one leg. They should land on the ball of their foot. Once in position, have them stay there for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat as many times as is comfortable, up to ten.
- Sit ups – If it is possible, have the older adult lie with their back on the floor and the knees bent. Have them place their arms across their chest and lift their upper body, attempting to get as close to the knees as possible. This may be repeated as many times as is comfortable.
To enhance strength training exercises, you may integrate the use of weights and/or resistance bands. Remember, never push the senior more than is comfortable for them and their health.
15 Minute Workout for Seniors
The purpose and intent of the 15-minute workout for seniors is to engage in exercises that are considered low impact, but beneficial in optimizing their ability to complete the basic activities of daily living as this will help them remain independent for longer.
Examples of exercises that may be included in this workout include wall push-ups, walking, jogging in place, reaching lunge exercises, stretches, weight lifting, squats, and other physical activities as deemed appropriate for the individual.
In order to customize the workout, a doctor or physical therapist should be contacted.
How Much Exercise is Recommended for Seniors?
Individuals that are over the age of 65 should get approximately three hours of moderate exercising a week.
At least one hour of vigorous exercises should be performed weekly.
Strength exercises should be done at least twice a week and each day, exercises that focus on balance and increasing mobility should be performed. Warm ups and cool downs should be performed prior to all exercising sessions. Movement is medicine.