As we age, our bodies begin to change in various ways, from stiffening blood vessels, to weakening bones, and a slower metabolism. But, staying active throughout one’s life and into old age can help mitigate these changes and maintain our health. Senior citizens, whether or not they’ve been active in the past, should consider including gentle exercises into their daily life.
Exercising as we age has various benefits, including:
- Improving muscle and bone strength
- Boosting mood
- Reducing stress
- Maintaining brain function
- Lowering risk for heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity
Starting a fitness routine is a great way to support healthy aging, and here are five safe exercise ideas for seniors they can try at home, or within your fitness community. For best results, try out a few exercises within each of these focuses in order to receive the various benefits.
Balance exercises for seniors develop stability, can help prevent falls, and are possible to do almost anywhere.
Try it! Standing with one hand holding to the back of a chair, slowly raise one foot off the ground. Hold for three seconds, and then slowly lower back down. Repeat the exercise with the opposite foot. If you feel comfortable, try balancing on each foot for longer, or let go of the chair while you lift your foot. Start small and gradually build up your balance to prevent injury or strain.
Weight training can build muscle, help maintain bone mass, and improve your balance. Whether you’re using resistance bands or small weights, building and maintaining your muscle is an important aspect of your fitness. No weights? No problem! Use full water bottles or soup cans instead.
Try it! Arm rows build strength in your arms and back. Standing or sitting, lift your arms straight out to each side. Then, bend your elbows 90 degrees so that your hands are in front of your body, palms faced down. Holding weights in each hand, pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other. Repeat that eight times, rest, and then try it again. Need more of a challenge? Try using two-pound weights, or complete three sets of 10. Make sure not to hold your breath while pushing and pulling, so that you keep your blood pressure stable.
Cardio oxygenates your blood, which helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Cardio workouts include walking, water aerobics, and dancing, whether in a class or on your own.
Try it! Walking is one of the best workouts because it requires no equipment or instruction, and is a low-impact with a ton of great health benefits.
4. Chair Workouts:
If you have limited mobility, chair workouts are a great option to keep active. And, they can provide both cardio or muscle strengthening benefits.
Try it! Seated arm raises. While sitting in a chair with your back straight, lift both arms so they are in line with your shoulders, and then bend your arms up to 90 degrees so that your hands are level with your head. At that position, raise your arms so they are straight overhead, and then bring them back to the 90-degree position. To focus on cardio, see if you can gradually increase the speed of the arm raise. To strengthen your muscles, hold a 1-pound weight in each hand during the workout.
Flexibility keeps your muscles and joints supple, and therefore less prone to injury. Stretch after some light cardio, or a workout, to make sure your muscles are “warm.”
Try it! This chest stretch helps with posture and spine flexibility. Standing straight, clasp your hands behind you at the base of your back. Gently straighten your arms and lift them slightly to feel a stretch across your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, and release. Repeat one to three times.
Though it can be intimidating to start a new workout routine, slowly adding in each of these types of exercises will help maintain fitness levels during aging. To boost even more of your wellness at once, try making these workouts social! Call friends or family while you take a walk for cardio, or join a virtual fitness class.
At televëda, our Empowered Living class is one of our most popular because it combines music, dance, fitness, and brain games in one, all while interacting with friends through live streaming technology. That way, you get a three-fold improvement in your physical, mental, and social health all at once.