Four easy exercises older adults can do at home to improve their health
Seniors who engage in physical activities as they age lead healthier lives with a better overall quality of life. What can be difficult for seniors, however, is knowing what types of activities count as exercise and how frequently these types of activities should be done.
As people age, they should focus on four main areas of physical fitness: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. By addressing each of these four areas in any given exercise routine, seniors will achieve a well-rounded workout that helps them stay healthy and active.
Here are four easy exercises that address each of these areas that seniors can practice in the comfort of their own homes:
It may seem simple, but raising your arms – and adding resistance with a light weight – is an easy way to build upper body strength. Using light hand weights or everyday items, such as books or a full water bottle, sit or stand with feet flat on the ground and hold weights at shoulder height with palms facing forward. Lift the weights above your head and then return them to shoulder height. Repeat the lift 10 times for a beneficial strength exercise.
Be sure to use a chair for better balance while doing leg raises. Holding on to the chair at your side, lift the opposite leg out to the side, keeping the heel and hip aligned and a slight bend in the supporting leg. Then, return your raised leg back to a standing position. For leg raises to the rear, follow this same method, but place the chair in front and lift your leg behind you instead of to the side. Repeat the lift and lower 10 times for each leg for a beneficial strength and balance exercise.
As seniors age, regular walking can help maintain a level of endurance, which can make everyday activities like grocery shopping and gardening that much easier. At Astor House at Springbrook Oaks, a Holiday Retirement community in Newberg, Ore., Irene H., who celebrated her 103rd birthday in January 2014, walks one mile every day after breakfast—without even leaving the community. Irene walks up and down each wing of the community building for a beneficial endurance exercise and to stay active and healthy.
An important part of any exercise routine is stretching. Focusing first on your upper body – with feet shoulder-width apart, bring your arms behind you and clasp your hands; hold for about 30 seconds. To stretch your lower body – place both palms flat against a wall keeping your arms at shoulder height. Step forward with your right leg and bend your knee. Then bend your left knee until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Switch sides. Remember to always keep both feet flat on the floor and hold each leg stretch for 30 seconds. Visit the National Institute on Aging for additional stretching examples for a beneficial flexibility exercise.
It is important to remember to warm up and cool down before and after your exercises to give your muscles a chance to prepare for the work and then slowly return to rest once your workout is finished. When warming up for your exercises, start by doing the exercise slowly and deliberately. As you feel your body and muscles warming up, you can speed up your walking, make your stretches deeper, etc. To cool down after exercising, take a few moments for some deep breaths and allow your heart rate to return to normal before moving on to the next activity.
Layers of the Holiday Lifestyle
At Holiday Retirement, we believe in the seven dimensions of wellness. By instituting these seven dimensions, or the seven layers of the Holiday lifestyle, our residents are more engaged and lead richer, more satisfying lives.
One of the layers contributing to seniors’ well-being at Holiday Retirement is physical activity. Activities such as tai chi, yoga, chair fitness, Wii sports, balloon volleyball, and bean bag baseball help encourage a sense of community and regular physical activity among residents. When seniors are offered fun and innovative physical activities, they are able to truly enjoy staying physically active and healthy.
To learn more about one of Holiday Retirement’s communities near you or a loved one, click here.