Authored by: Sean Lyman Image link: Pexels
One of the best things that seniors can do for their health is to engage in regular physical activity. Of course, what form this physical activity takes depends on the age and preexisting health conditions of the seniors.
Keeping physically active helps prevent the onset of several age-related health problems. By being physically active, seniors can improve or maintain their state of health and prevent the exacerbation of the health conditions from which they already suffer.
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week along with 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities. Some balance-improving activities are also recommended. It is generally good for elders to practice a mobility workout.
It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program. Some activities may be suitable for some seniors while they may prove counterproductive for others because of previous health issues. The exercises must align with current fitness levels. It is always safer if one proceeds with caution and medical advice.
Not all seniors may have access to personal trainers. Most gyms also do not offer suitable facilities for the elderly. Caregivers could help the elderly with support, presence, and guidance on at-home exercises. Here are 5 simple exercises that can help elderly individuals stay active at home:
The simplest form of exercise that most elderly can do with ease is stretching. Every day, the seniors can stretch for a few minutes using a bed or a chair (if required). Stretching helps in improving circulation, posture, and flexibility. A study from the International Journal of Health Sciences archived on the site NIH National Library of Medicine found that stretching improves balance and thereby reduces the risk of falling. It also increases energy levels. Some elders may require assisted stretching.
There is good news for the elderly who love water – they can participate in water aerobic sessions. It is perfect for those with arthritis and other joint pain. Because of the buoyancy of the water, there is less stress on the joints. The natural resistance of the water helps in strength training without any need for weights.
Chair yoga is better for the elderly than conventional yoga as it puts relatively less stress on the joints, muscles, and bones. It is a low-impact way to improve mobility, flexibility, and balance. Chair yoga also seems to improve the quality of sleep and mental health of the elderly.
Light Bodyweight Exercises
Seniors can combat the effects of muscular atrophy with bodyweight workouts. These exercises neither require the gym nor any special equipment and are therefore affordable for all. It is the exercising person’s body weight that provides resistance. While doing light bodyweight exercises, the seniors should use a mat so that the impact with the floor is softened.
Walking is the king of all exercises for the elderly. They can walk from room to room within the house, or take walks outside or in parks. The pace depends on their fitness level. The walks may be assisted or in the company of friends. Walking helps improve heart health, lowers blood sugar, may reduce pain, and may increase social engagement.
The elderly can choose the exercises that appeal to them and suit their current condition. They can start slowly and increase gradually. It is important to keep moving to live a healthier and happier life.
About our author: Sean is a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer by profession, and a freelance writer by passion. Sean writes and shares his knowledge for a range of fitness publications and nutrition brands.