We’ve heard the excuse, “I’m too old to exercise!” far too often, even from people in their mid-30s to early 40s.
No one is too old to start exercising and enjoy its benefits. As a matter of fact, we all have to continue engaging in physical activity as we grow older. Our aging bodies can use the exercise to enhance flexibility, strength, balance, and mobility, and no one needs all that more than our elderly loved ones.
For seniors, exercise becomes more critical than ever. They need to stay physically active because the opposite—a sedentary lifestyle—will have an adverse effect on their health.
Encourage senior loved ones to exercise more, and they have a much better chance of adding more years to their life.
However, when creating an exercise routine for seniors, you have to make sure that it’s safe enough to perform. Here are some exercises that will help keep your elderly loved one physically fit in a safe way.
Push-ups are a great way of making a person’s upper body and arms stronger, but they can be a bit too strenuous for seniors.
Wall push-ups, on the other hand, are much less taxing and therefore appropriate for the elderly.
Seniors can strengthen their hips, thighs, and glutes by doing the chair squat.
To perform this exercise, seniors will need to:
- Stand in front of a chair with feet apart.
- Bend the knees to sit on the chair and use the arms to balance by extending them straight out front.
- Once seated, they need to stand right back up by putting the weight on their heels to push onto the floor.
- Avoid using momentum to perform this part.
- Repeat 10-12 times.
Single Foot Stand
This exercise focuses on improving your senior’s balance. To do this safely, have your senior loved one stand behind a stable chair and hold onto it, pick up his or her left foot, and balance on it for as long as comfortable. Do the same thing with the right foot.
For best results, you should try to have your parent or grandparent stand on one foot for a minute or so, without holding on to the chair.
Another exercise to improve balance, walking heel-to-toe requires putting one foot right in front of the other, with the heel of one foot touching the other foot's toes. Doing this for 20 steps at a time can help strengthen your senior’s legs and enables him or her to walk without falling.
Stretching is crucial to improving flexibility and range of motion, even at an advanced age. There are a number of stretching exercises that seniors can perform safely, including:
- Shoulder circles
- Neck rotation
- Neck side stretch
- Arm raises
- Back stretch
- Hip rotation
- Ankle circles
- Ankle stretch
Cardio exercises are any physical activity that increases a person’s heart rate and helps improve endurance. With regular cardio exercise, your senior will experience less fatigue and shortness of breath.
Among the many cardio exercises that older adults in your family can do safely are:
- Walking or strolling
- Raking leaves
- Dancing alone or with a partner
- Water aerobics
These are just some of the many exercises that your senior loved one can do safely to keep physically fit. While it is recommended that they do these exercises regularly, always remind seniors that they should never overexert themselves because that would be dangerous. If possible, keep an eye on your senior while he or she is performing exercise routines to be safe.
About the Author
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.
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