Staying active is very important for seniors. An active senior lifestyle brings measurable health benefits, including stronger heart and lungs, lower cholesterol levels, and increased energy.
Exercising regularly reduces the risk of falls and hospitalization, one of the biggest health dangers for senior citizens. Active seniors more easily perform everyday activities, which improves their quality of life.
Before starting an exercise program, seniors should get the OK from their doctor. Then, incorporate four types of exercises recommended by the National Institute on Aging.
Improving balance helps seniors decrease the risk of falls and broken bones, walk on uneven surfaces and stand on tiptoes to safely reach items on a top shelf. Here are two good balance exercises:
Chair stand - Start in a seated position using an armless chair. Keep back and shoulders straight, then extend both arms parallel to the ground and slowly stand up, without using hands to push off. Sit down and repeat 10 to 15 times (known as a rep) for one set. Build up to two sets of chair stands.
Toe stand - Stand behind a chair, using it for support. Slowly raise up on tiptoes and hold that position for several seconds. Slowly lower the heels back to the floor. Do 10 to 15 reps and work up to two sets of toe stands.
These exercises can improve breathing, energy and heart health; burn calories; maintain joint mobility; and lower cholesterol levels. One of the best endurance exercises is walking. Start slowly, if necessary, i.e. a five-minute walk several times per week. Work up to walking five to six days per week for at least 30 minutes, at a moderate pace. Moderate endurance activities also include tennis and swimming. Regular endurance activities make it easier to do household chores like vacuuming and to enjoy active grandchildren.
Increased muscle strength helps seniors remain independent so they can perform daily activities themselves. Stronger muscles make it easier to carry groceries or a full laundry basket, or lift a suitcase or heavy items. Two good strength exercises:
Squats - This builds lower body strength. Stand in front of a sturdy chair, hold onto the chair if necessary, and squat as low as safe. Do 10 reps and build up to two sets of 10 reps.
Bicep curls - Lightweight dumbbells build upper body strength, which improves seniors' ability to lift items. Seated or standing, hold dumbbells at the side with palms facing up and elbows tucked in. Bend elbows and lift the weights to the chest. Hold this position for about one second, lower and repeat 10 times. Aim for two sets of 10 reps to build stronger biceps.
Keeping muscles stretched and limber improves freedom of movement, so it's easier to make the bed or bend over to tie shoes or put on socks.
Arm and chest muscles - Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at the sides. Bring both arms behind the back and grasp hands. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, release and repeat 10 times, and aim for two sets of 10 reps.
Leg muscles - Stand behind a sturdy chair and grab with the right hand to start. Bend the left leg behind you and grab your foot with your left hand, being sure to keep your thigh as close to perpendicular to the floor as you can. Hold this for 30 seconds if possible, then repeat on the other side. Aim for two sets of 10 reps.
Find an assisted living community that offers fun fitness activities. Contact us today to learn more about what activities we have to offer our residents!