The seniors of today are much more active than previous generations. Seniors are staying in school longer, keeping their minds sharp, and participating in activities that help them stay active, such as yoga and aerobics. Even if they can no longer compete on the same physical level as their younger peers, seniors have found ways to remain active and healthy.
If you’re a senior or look after one at home, it’s important to incorporate simple exercises into your daily life. That allows you to remain strong and flexible without straining your body. Practicing simple exercises for seniors can improve balance, strength, and coordination. Regular exercise also makes everyday tasks easier; it’s simply a matter of making time for these small movements daily.
Getting up each day can feel like a chore at times. Your body may be stiff from sleeping, making getting up a slow and painful process. Adding morning exercises into your routine can help limber your body up while also increasing your flexibility. Here are some great morning exercises for seniors to try:
- Good Morning Stretch – Stand comfortably with your feet about six to eight inches apart. Extend your arms to the ceiling and turn your palms towards the sky. Gently lean back and forth from your ankles, ensuring your knees are not locked. This stretch will help with balance and assist the body in waking up. Seniors should do this stretch daily to improve concentration, flexibility, and strength. Yoga poses can help relieve stress and improve focus.
- Stand-Up-and-Sit-Down Exercises – While sitting in a comfortable chair or even on the edge of the bed, slowly stand up, making sure not to lock your knees. Once standing, slowly sit back down after bending your knees as much as needed. This can be done a few times daily while reading, watching television, or completing a daily task. The stand-up-and-sit-down process is one of the better balance exercises for seniors because it helps them keep their bodies moving.
- Moving Your Joints to Loosen Them Up – One of the best options you have is also the simplest. Try sitting up in bed and putting your feet on the floor. From there, roll and move each set of joints to get your body going. Begin with your wrists, then move up to your elbows and shoulders. From there, move your ankles and then your knees. These simple motions make you feel stronger and more secure when getting up and make the joints less painful.
Resistance Band Exercises
Resistance bands are simple to use and can be used almost anywhere. Seniors can use them to strengthen and stretch different muscles in the body. They can also perform exercises to improve balance and flexibility.
For seniors, the easiest way to use resistance bands is to loop the band around a secure surface, such as a chair or desk. They should then pull the band toward their body. The bands can be used in a variety of ways, so seniors should experiment to discover which exercises are best for their particular aches and pains.
Senior Chair Exercises
Some scoff at using a chair to exercise, but the benefits of sitting down and exercising cannot be discounted. Stability is one of the most significant benefits of using a chair during exercise. Here are some simple exercises seniors can do from a seated position or while using the chair for extra balance.
- Arm Lifts – Keeping the arms flexible makes nearly everything a senior does easier, making arm lifts a great daily exercise. You should start with raising your arms as high as possible 5-10 times in a row with no weights. Ideally, you should do this three times per day. You can add light weights of 1-5 pounds as this becomes easier for increased resistance.
- Leg Lifts – While seated, lifting the legs from the knees is a great way to provide strength and stability to the knees while keeping up with their range of motion. Depending on the senior’s initial mobility, the action can simply be to lift the feet off the floor, or it can be to straighten the legs out entirely, so the legs are parallel to the floor. This motion should be repeated 5-10 times, three times each day.
- Chair Leans – If you struggle with back pain or a tight back, leaning over while seated can help stretch your back. Lean forward and try and touch the floor, taking a deep breath in and out as you move. Once you are as low as you can get comfortably, raise yourself back up, deeply breathing as you move. This motion should be done five times per set, with the goal of completing 2-3 sets per day.
Floor exercises are some of the best strengthening exercises for seniors, as they not only build strength but also improve flexibility in the lower body. However, they should only be done with assistance if the senior cannot get down on the floor and back up without discomfort or aid.
To perform these exercises, a senior should lie on their back with their knees bent and feet pressed against the floor. From there, the senior can then slowly lift one foot at a time while keeping the other foot pressed against the ground.
Seniors can also perform leg lifts while lying on the floor. This is an easy exercise that can be done as part of a daily routine.
Tai Chi and Pilates to Strengthen the Core
A strong core is essential for everyday activities, no matter what age a person is. Seniors can use a variety of exercises to strengthen the core, such as Pilates, yoga, and Tai Chi.
Yoga is one of the best core exercises for seniors. Yoga is beneficial for all ages, but it’s especially helpful for seniors because it gives them a low-impact workout that focuses on improving flexibility and balance.
The core is used for nearly all activities, making maintaining its strength essential. Sitting, cooking, balancing, and walking engage the core. If the core gets too weak, it can make all activities more difficult.
Working Out at Home vs. Working Out at the Gym
Working out at home has many advantages. Seniors do not have to worry about getting to the gym on a specific day, and they can do their exercises at any time. Working out at home allows you to set your schedule, but working out in a gym can also be beneficial.
Working out in a gym offers more exercise options and can provide a more social setting for seniors who prefer to work out with others. Plus, there are people who can help a senior during their exercise routine if they opt to go to a gym.
An online search for something like “senior exercise classes near me” can give seniors a complete list of available options within a short distance from their homes. That way, they can see their options and make a decision that best suits their needs.
If seniors have not exercised in a while, they should start slowly to avoid injury no matter where they choose to work out. It’s also important to find something that is enjoyable, and that appeals to the person. Seniors have a lot to offer the world, and staying healthy is the best way to do that!
Other Ways to Make a Senior’s Life Easier
Making daily life easier is not always about exercise and mobility. Some seniors struggle with other aspects of their lives. Here are a few options to help make a senior’s life easier.
- Food – One area where many seniors struggle is food. If you or a senior you know struggles with food insecurity, consider looking into a meal delivery service for seniors. The difference a complete meal can make is astounding.
- Medication – There are several services that cut down on prescription costs for seniors. Programs like Cost Plus Drugs can help cut down on the price of medications for people of all ages, especially seniors who are often on regular, long-term medications.
- Support – One commonality among many seniors is their struggles with support. They want to remain independent but cannot always perform daily tasks as they once did. Having proper support in their lives can make life easier and lead to fewer health struggles.
Turn to Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa for Help with Senior Resources
Exercising more is a great way for seniors to improve their quality of life. However, it is not the only way to improve the life of a senior.
For resources that can give the senior in your life more drive, flexibility, and longevity, contact Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa. We are here to help seniors with everything we can, including connecting them with support teams, providing meal delivery to the elderly, and helping them feel safe in their own homes. Call us now, and let’s work together to help seniors live their best lives.