We all know that exercise is important, especially for seniors. Even 10 minutes of movement a day can make a big difference. But for many seniors, it’s difficult to get any exercise at all. Chronic health problems and mobility issues can make even walking around the block impossible.
But the key is to start small and stay consistent. That’s why exercise challenges are so popular. They give you just enough support to stick to a schedule and stay with it for over a few days. By the time you hit 30 days, you have a routine down and can incorporate that into your daily life. Habits take time to form, but challenges like this are great for kick-starting healthy habits.
Senior chair exercises are a wonderful option for seniors because the exercises are easy and low impact. They incorporate movement without unnecessary strain and are gentle on the body while slowly building muscle and increasing flexibility. These types of gentle exercises are vital for senior health.
30 Day Chair Exercise Challenge
Let’s take a look at what a 30 day challenge actually looks like. For 30 days, or roughly one month, you do daily chair exercises. The actual routine is going to depend heavily on your fitness level. But the exercises really only have to be 10 to 30 minutes per day, especially for those who have limited mobility. Remember, even 5 minutes of movement is better than no movement.
Before you begin, make sure you have a sturdy chair and a good place to exercise. You should also consult your doctor about what kinds of exercise you should be doing and for how long.
But the most important thing to remember is not to push yourself too hard. Always stay in a pain-free range of motion and stop when you feel tired or if anything hurts. If you push yourself too hard, you’ll actually be taking a step backward, as you’ll have to wait for your body to heal before you can try again.
Benefits of Chair Exercise
Chair exercises are popular for seniors because they are so easy on the body. Many workout routines can be modified to be seated exercises for seniors in order to accommodate physical limitations. Chair exercises provide vital support for muscles and help retain flexibility and balance. They also lead to an improved heart rate, helping to slow down or prevent heart problems that come with age.
These factors are vital to help seniors retain mobility, cognitive function, and independence.
Why is Mobility so Important?
As we age, our bodies start to break down. We lose flexibility and muscle mass. Our bones also become more brittle, meaning they will break more easily. All of this means that seniors are more likely to fall or lose mobility due to a loss of coordination. And falls are one of the greatest threats to seniors.
Falls can lead to hospitalization, the permanent need for mobility aids, and death. And even if a fall just leads to a broken bone, the bones heal slower and not as completely, leading to long-term health complications and a higher probability of another fall.
On top of risks to physical health, falls affect senior mental health as well. Once a senior has experienced a fall, especially a risky one, they may develop anxiety about certain activities and will limit their own mobility. And this ultimately makes the problem worse in the long run.
Regular exercise can help seniors retain muscle mass and flexibility when done well. And that leads to better coordination and balance. All of this gives seniors better mobility and reduces the risk of falls. A senior’s fall risk is one of the greatest threats to their independence. But regular exercise can play a huge role in helping seniors stay independent and in their own homes.
Some of The Best Chair Exercises for Seniors
Here are a few examples of some great chair exercises for seniors. Remember that these can be adjusted for an individual’s ability and that a doctor should be consulted before attempting new exercises. Check out GoodRX Health for more exercises.
Clenched Fists and Wrist Circles
This is a low-intensity exercise to help you warm up. To do this, sit with your back straight in the chair and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out in front of you with your palms down. Open and close your fists 3 times. Then, roll your clenched fists in circles. Do this 10 times in each direction.
This exercise is also low-intensity and can help with ankle mobility. To start, sit straight in your chair with your feet on the floor and your palms on your thighs. Lift one leg in front of you and point your toe. Imagining your big toe as a pen, write the alphabet. Try to move your foot rather than your leg, and make the letters as big as possible. Repeat with the other leg.
This exercise is a little more intense and works your legs, hips, and abdominals. This is one of many great balance exercises for seniors. These exercises help seniors maintain their muscles and coordination from many activities of daily life (ADLs), which are critical to independence.
To start, sit toward the front of your chair with your hands resting on your thighs. Sit up straight and keep your feet hip-width apart. While breathing with your belly, lean forward with your hips and shift your weight through your feet. Stand up slowly and pause for a breath. Then, sit back down slowly, remembering to shift your hips back and bend your knees to sit back down. Do this exercise 10 to 15 times.
These are just a few chair exercises to get you started. But ask your doctor or another professional who understands exercises that can help seniors to learn more and understand how to perform these without causing an injury.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a community-driven organization that strives to help homebound seniors retain their independence. This is primarily done through at home meal delivery. Healthy meals are delivered right to the senior’s houses, ensuring that they receive nutritious meals.
But a balanced diet isn’t enough. Healthy food has to be paired with regular exercise, social interaction, and other support. Meals on Wheels provides daily social interaction with their deliveries and daily check-ins to ensure that everything is going okay for these seniors. Meals on Wheels provides a network of support for any potential problems that these seniors may have. These factors all go hand in hand to help seniors retain their independence.
Join the 30 Day Challenge
What are you waiting for? Start your 30 day chair exercise challenge today! A good challenge can help kickstart a great exercise habit. And that excessive habit will help you retain muscle mass and flexibility, which will help you maintain greater independence. Senior exercises in a chair are the perfect way to stay healthy while not over-exerting yourself.
And don’t forget to check out Meal on Wheels of Contra Costa. This program does more than deliver meals. It supports homebound seniors in need so that they can live out their lives on their own terms and in their own houses.