“Your body is your temple” is a popular saying and it holds true in all aspects. A well-balanced diet and a great state of mind alone are certainly not enough to maintain the well-being of our health. Exercise for seniors is the other side of the coin that enhances our ability to fight diseases and sustain longer in this race of life.
Health experts recommend exercising for everyone regardless of their age, but even more so for senior citizens. Exercise for seniors, especially the ones that can be carried out at home without the use of any special or fancy equipment.
Although senior citizens should take extra care while exercising as there are few risks. Hence, this article brings you simple exercises for senior citizens to do at home that will not only improve your lifestyle but also aid you in managing health conditions. So, grab your favorite beverage and hop into the world of simple exercises for seniors in the following space ahead.
Benefits of exercise for seniors
Exercising in itself has several health benefits. However, when it comes to senior citizens, there is a popular myth that they are not supposed to move much and rest as much as they can. While this is hardly true, and as mentioned earlier, seniors must exercise moderately to enhance their health. Below are a few of the many benefits of exercises for seniors:
- Exercise helps in improving your energy and stamina
- It aids in proper maintenance of balance, preventing you from falling.
- Helps in the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and joint issues such as arthritis, depression, anxiety, etc.
- Enhances cognitive abilities
- Improves immunity and prevents the onset of diseases
While aging is a natural process and it is impossible to reverse it, one can definitely manage it and delay the risks associated with old age. Exercise is one fine key tool in achieving that. However, as everyone’s health condition is different, it is recommended to consult a health expert before you engage in any special exercise.
How to get started with exercises
The start often seems difficult but once started, there is no stopping and the road ahead gets comparatively easier. One of the greatest ways to start with exercises is to start slow. It is not recommended nor expected to do a hard-core exercise on day 1. Consistency is the key and that is all that matters. Take baby steps and increase them gradually. Here are a few tips for you to get started with exercises if you are an absolute beginner:
Monitor your health
Before you start exercising, it is essential that you seek advice from your physician. You may have certain conditions that may prevent you from doing a particular type of exercise for seniors and cause damage. Thus, prevention is better than cure.
Don’t set unrealistic goals
It is quite common to set unrealistic goals when it comes to exercising. Do not go out of your way and exercise. Begin with a simple step-by-step approach. Then, as your fitness level improves, you can continue to add to it. For example, if your goal is 50 sit-ups, start with 25 and then add a few each day. This method will assist you in being consistent and successful.
Watch what you eat
Certain foods can make you feel sluggish and lethargic. Avoid oily and greasy food and stick to wholesome greens. A good diet instantly lifts your spirits and motivates you to do activities. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Start with the basics
Plan a comparatively simpler exercise set and then advance it later as you may wish. This will allow you to accommodate the new lifestyle and boost you further instead of overwhelming you.
Different types of exercise for seniors that they can do at home
To be healthy, and active, and to reap all the benefits of exercise, one does not need to hit those expensive gyms and work out with fancy equipment. A simple chair and a dumbbell in the house can do wonders if you are motivated!
Here are a few simple yet effective exercises that seniors can effortlessly ace:
1. Chair exercises
If you have a knee or joint condition where movement may cause excessive pain, chair exercise comes to the rescue. You can simply sit on it and do a variety of exercises which includes:
- The seated front shoulder raises
This focuses on the chest and the arms. You can use light weights to do this exercise or skip it. Sit in a 90 degrees position and by keeping your chest forward, gradually raise your arms (with or without the weights) forward and parallel to the ground. Hold it for a few seconds and then bring back your arms to their original position. Repeat this a few times.
- Abdominal twists
This targets the abdominal area. Sit straight, keeping your knees in a 90 degrees position. Fold your arms and bring them closer to your chest, keeping them again in a 90 degrees position. Now in the same position, gradually turn your body to the left side, rotating it in such a way that you feel your core tightening. Do the same on the opposite side. Repeat as you may like it.
- Seated leg raises
Sit in a similar position as mentioned above. Bend one knee while keeping the other straight. Raise the straight leg gradually a foot off from the floor. Hold it for a few seconds then bring it back to its original position and bend the knee. Repeat the same with the other leg.
2. Aerobics and cardio
Turn on some music and move around your house lightly. You don’t need to go out and do a 5km run! You can start with mild jumping jacks, jogging, and high knee raise-ups. A few sets of each and you are good to go! Or the simplest of all, a brisk walk around your house and get sweat it out!
One of the easiest types of exercise. Seniors who do not suffer from joint conditions can do this. Sit-ups can be great for strengthening core muscles and improving a good posture. Begin by lying on a mat on your back with your hands supporting the back of your head. Slowly lift your head first followed by your entire upper abdomen. Come back to the original position and repeat at least 10-15 times.
4. Resistance band workouts
Resistance bands are like rubber bands. As the name suggests, they increase resistance to workouts while reducing body tension. Resistance band workouts are perfect for at-home exercises for seniors as they are economic and user-friendly. It can be used along with any type of exercise as an addition.
Stretching is an excellent way to improve overall flexibility and assist in chronic pain. For seniors with restricted mobility, several stretches can be done in a stationary position.
Types of stretches that can be done:
- Overhead side stretch
Stand straight with feet a little wide apart. Gradually raise your arms and bend to the side. Hold this position for 20 seconds, and come back to the original position. Now repeat the stretch with the opposite side.
- Calf stretch
Stand in such a way that your one leg is forward and bent. Or if you are lying then extend both (or only one) of your legs and stretch by arching your feet in such a way that your calf stretches. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then repeat.
Tips for staying motivated to exercise
It may get difficult and tiresome at times to follow the exercise routine, here are some tips that will help you in staying motivated to exercise. You can also check out this in-depth article on how to stay motivated while working out which is absolutely practical.
Appreciate and acknowledge your efforts by rewarding yourself. Rewards for example can look like: “if I finish 2 sets of exercises today, I will eat XYZ food for dinner”. Such small rewards can be highly motivating and boost your morale to finish the exercise. It also helps you in being consistent
A few breaks here and there won’t cause a loss. If sometimes you feel you cannot do it, take a break. Even during exercises, it is recommended to take some intervals of a few minutes before resuming it.
Get your friends and family involved and compete against them! Doing things alone may get boring while building a team will give you more reasons to work out. This harmless activity will not only motivate you to stay fit but also your dear ones!
Setting both long and short-term goals will facilitate you in staying motivated and focused. Keep realistic and achievable goals.
Add fun elements
Play some music, use props and do a pep talk! Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or look like a punishment! Customize your exercise schedule and do it your way!
How to track your progress
With the advancements in technology, there are plenty of ways in which you can track your exercise progress.
The best and the easiest way to track your exercise is with the help of an app or your smartwatch.
If you are not a techno-savvy person then go the old-school way. Start journaling. Note down your BMI, weight, and other measurements on a daily or a weekly basis.
Get your health status checked regularly and compare the results.
Take photos each day to compare your progress visually.
As we age, it is normal for our bodies to change and weaken over time. However, investing in regular exercise can do wonders for our health. The endless benefits of exercise are in itself rewarding. Exercising is not tough, being consistent is.
The above-listed exercise for seniors at home is as simple as it can be and do not need any supervision. It does its job without causing any overexertion of the body. Thus, if you start those exercises from today, a few months later you ought to notice a difference!