Boost your health with easy, accessible exercises any senior can do
Like any health-conscious senior, you probably long to incorporate exercise into your life so you can reap its mood-boosting, stress-relieving and health-enhancing benefits. But if your mobility level has changed recently, you may have abandoned your desire to get fit because of a misconception that exercise is only for the swift of foot.
The reality is that with a little creativity, resourcefulness and determination, everyone―including you―can lead a vital life bursting with activities like walking, swimming and playing with your grandkids.
Read on to discover exercises you can take part in at any age and any fitness level.
Make a splash with your favorite exercise
Water exercise can be a great choice if you have trouble walking, as water supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort. For even greater access, some rec centers offer pool therapy programs for wheelchair users. If standing is no problem, try a water aerobics class geared to seniors, test out water walking or check out other aqua exercises.
If you need a little extra push to jump into exercising, consider asking a friend to join you for motivation and mental support.
Jump, box and walk without leaving your seat
If water isn’t your style, there are plenty of non-aquatic ways to strengthen your body to keep it in tip-top shape. When it comes to building muscles, try wheelchair pushups, or attach lightweight resistance bands to furniture (like a doorknob or your chair) to use for pull-downs, shoulder rotations, and arm and leg extensions.
This seated workout can give you some more ideas.
As for cardio, chair aerobics can do the trick. Here is a sampling of low-impact seated workouts.
- This workout from Active Aging includes seated walking and jumping jacks.
- This dynamic seated chair video will be sure to keep you motivated.
- These chair exercises from HASfit deliver marching, bicycling, boxing upper cuts and more to get your blood flowing.
Modifications that can still get your heart pumping
Seated dancing is another way to get your blood circulating. So if you like to boogie, check out the free intro videos on chairdancing.com or peruse YouTube for resources like this seated jive exercise set to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Alternatively, you can go low-tech by putting on a favorite CD and waving your arms and swaying to the beat.
If you loved team sports in your youth, you’ll be delighted to find out that older adults of all fitness levels can enjoy a rousing game of chair volleyball. The seated version is similar to the regular game; the major difference is that participants remain in chairs and hit a beach ball or a balloon, rather than a leather volleyball, over a lower-than-typical net.
Not surprisingly, chair volleyball is one of the most popular activities at Holiday Retirement communities, where we value physical activity so much so that we created an e-book to help older adults incorporate exercise into their daily lives.
Calm your mind and stretch your body
Seated Tai Chi classes are another favorite on Holiday’s activity schedule. It’s no wonder, given that these calming exercises improve mobility, coordination and balance, they can help reduce the risk of falling. If you’re not a Holiday resident, call the nearest community to see if you can join one of their Tai Chi classes. Another place offering this Eastern practice is the Tai Chi for Health Institute, which has also created a seated Tai Chi for arthritis DVD. If you live in a city with good public transportation, inquire at the local YMCA. These fitness organizations deliver a Moving for Better Balance program that builds on traditional Tai Chi and aims to reduce falls in seniors.
An additional low-impact exercise with similar benefits to Tai Chi is seated yoga, another top activity of Holiday residents. Many communities offer chair yoga classes that are open to the public. You could join a class and experience a taste of the Holiday lifestyle.
If you’d rather practice seated yoga at home, try these sample poses or check out this video. There are also online resources that showcase the Feldenkrais Method, a lesser-known exercise program that focuses on gentle movements and body awareness and is a good choice for older adults and anyone with chronic pain or limited mobility.
Slow and steady wins the race
Now that the many ways you can add physical activity into your life are fresh in your mind, you might want to throw yourself into a new exercise routine. Although it’s tempting to strike while your motivation is hot, ask a physical therapist, personal trainer or other professional specializing in senior fitness for some guidance first. And remember, always take it easy when you’re starting out.
For more easy-to-understand advice on the safest and most effective ways to increase your physical activity and optimize your health, download “Active senior living through fitness & wellness” today.