Research has shown that exercise is important as one gets older for maintaining good physical, and mental health, and reducing common ailments of aging including dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure and obesity. Keeping your muscles strong can also help in reducing falls and fractures.
If you have not yet incorporated a regular exercise routine into your life it’s never too late to begin. If you have exercised regularly but need to modify your routine as you age, the exercises below are a good way to stay limber, healthy and energized at any age.
As with all exercise routines consult your physician before you begin. You may modify each exercise for number of repetitions, or use support devices to increase balance. Try exercising with a friend while engaging in conversation. Speaking while exercising increases the use of the cardiovascular system and strengthens the heart and lungs.
Much of daily stretching and cardio exercise can be done at home using household furniture. Weight training with a fitness specialist is recommended. Chair–bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.
Gentle stretching can be done before and after all exercise, or just by itself, and is a great way to start every day. It can be done at home, at the side of your bed when you get up, or anywhere that you find comfortable. Don’t forget two of the most important extremities to keep flexible, your hands and feet. Do the following exercises standing or sitting.
o Slowly lift shoulders up towards ears and lower 5x’s
o Rotate shoulders forward and backward 5x’s
o Lower chin to chest and raise to straight 5x’s
o Lift arms in front of you chest height, at the wrist bend hands back and bend the writs forward 5x’s, releasing arms to side each time.
• Repeat circling wrists clockwise and counter clockwise 5x’s
o With elbows bent at sides, turn palms up, and fold in each finger toward palm, one at a time. Repeat each hand 5x’s
o If you have a soft ball or a flat tennis ball, squeeze it 5x’s in each hand.
o Standing or sitting, bend over from the waist slowly as far as you can without straining. Hang, breath and relax. Rise up slowly. Repeat 5x’s
o While standing or sitting, lean from the waist with arms extended up, over head as far as you can go without straining, lean gentle to each side. 5’xs each side.
o Standing, steady yourself on a wall or sturdy chair back and bend your knees lowering into a squat, no lower than your knees, come up slowly. Repeat 5x’s.
• Sitting in a chair, raise each leg to a full extension and hold for a count of 3, 5x’s each side.
o While sitting or standing, roll each ankle clockwise and counter clockwise 5’’x each side. Repeat with flexing and pointing of each foot.
Cardiovascular Exercise- 3x’s per week
20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise goes a long way to heart health and the releasing of toxins from the system. Take a 20-minute brisk walk around the neighborhood or park. If you are stable, and able, walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes at a speed that challenges you slightly. Your endurance will rise with repetition. Consider grading the belt slightly (or walking uphill) to work your muscles and heart increasingly.
Yoga for seniors is not just stretching. It is a muscle building, self-resistance exercise of various poses that increases strength and improves balance. You might find a yoga class near you to practice with others. There are also many yoga DVD’s and internet sites from which to learn about poses for all different physical requirements.
Weight Training – 2x’s per week
Weight training builds muscle mass and keep bones strong, reducing fractures and supporting balance. Use light hand weights and resistance machines with the advice of a trainer specializing in exercise for those over 65. You can use very low weights at home and follow your trainer’s routine once you have mastered it.