Maintaining your physical health becomes more important as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity can help delay, prevent, and manage chronic diseases in addition to reducing the risk of premature death. While starting a routine of easy exercises for seniors might seem overwhelming, just 30 minutes of physical activity per day can help you stay fit and reduce the risk of developing health problems. Staying active can also help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart and manage symptoms of diseases and illnesses. A consistent exercise routine doesn’t have to require equipment, either. Physical activity can be as simple as walking to the store, exercising in your home, or trying out a new exercise video with a friend. It’s never too late to find enjoyable ways to reap the many benefits of a daily exercise routine.
Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults
Exercise doesn’t only provide physical health benefits—it can improve mental health as well. According to HelpGuide, physical activity has many benefits for older adults, even for those starting an exercise routine later in life. Here’s what you can expect to happen when exercising consistently or adopting a new physical activity routine:
Reduce the impact of chronic disease. People who exercise consistently are more likely to experience better digestive functioning, improve their blood pressure and bone density and lower their risk of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Enhance mobility, flexibility, and balance. Different exercises can help improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination—all of which reduce your risk of falling. Strength training can help manage symptoms of arthritis and other chronic conditions.
Improve the quality of sleep. Good quality sleep helps to restore energy levels, heal physical and cognitive damage and improve overall physical function. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep without interruption and wake up feeling ready for the day.
Boost mood and self-confidence. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins which act as natural mood boosters. The release of endorphins can help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety.
Improve brain function. Physical activity can help improve brain function and increase creativity. In addition, exercise can also help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline and help slow the progression of memory and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Types of Exercises
Adding variety to your workout routine can help you stay fit and reduce the risk of developing health complications. Finding a good balance between different types of exercises can help you strengthen your muscles, improve your coordination, reduce the risk of injury and decrease the time it takes you to heal if an injury were to occur. Here are a few of the most common types of exercises:
Aerobic activities, such as walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming, help condition your heart and build your endurance. These exercises can be done at different intensities depending on your overall goals. Aerobic exercises done at a moderate intensity would increase your breathing and heart rate and may cause you to sweat. Those working at a vigorous intensity would be breathing rapidly and find it difficult to carry on a full conversation.
Muscle-strengthening exercises can help older adults prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density, while also working to improve overall mobility and function. When done correctly, muscle-strengthening exercises will work for all major muscle groups. These exercises include working with resistance bands, exercise machines, and free weights.
Flexibility can help you improve overall muscle function, while also decreasing the risk of fall-related injuries. Stretching can prevent injury, lessen pain, improve posture and physical performance and increase strength. Flexibility exercises include yoga and Pilates.
Engaging in exercises that improve balance can help reduce the risk of falls, which is a great risk for older adults. Tai chi and yoga can help develop balance along with adding other exercises, such as backward and sideways walking, and heel and toe walking, to your daily routine.
Easy Exercises for Seniors to Try at Home
While everyone can benefit from exercise, older adults live healthier and more independent lives when physical activity is prioritized. Older adult exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few easy exercises for seniors that can be done in the comfort of your own home without much equipment. The exercises below are designed to work the whole body, allowing you to build strength, improve balance and coordination and increase flexibility. As always, be sure to consult your healthcare provider or ask a certified personal trainer before trying anything new to your exercise routine.
Chair squat. Squats help build strength in the hips, glutes, and thighs. While standing in front of a chair, bend your knees and send the hips back and the arms straight out in front of you. Sit all the way down on the chair. As soon as you make contact with the chair, stand back up. Perform 10-12 reps.
Knee lift with a medicine ball. Hold a lightweight or medicine ball with both hands and lift it above your head. Lift the right knee while bringing the ball down to meet the knee. Lower the knee and raise the hands back up. Perform on the other side. Continue this exercise starting with 30 seconds and working your way up to one minute
Side leg lift. Stand sideways near a wall for support. Shift the weight into the right leg and lift the leg out to the side without tilting your torso. Keep your foot flexed and feet parallel. Lower the leg back down. Try 10-12 reps on each leg.
Lat pulls with a band. In a standing or seated position, hold a resistance band over your head with both hands. Create tension in the band by pulling with your hands, keeping the distance between them wider than your shoulders. Keeping the left hand in place, pull the right elbow down to the ribcage and press back up. Try 10-12 reps on each side.
Wall push-ups. Stand three feet away from a wall. Facing the wall, lean forward and place your hands flat against it, in line with your shoulders. Lower your body toward the wall and push back. Repeat 10-12 times.
Pelvic tilts. To help stretch the muscles in your back, take a deep breath and tighten your glutes. Tilt your hips slightly forward and hold for three seconds. Tilt-back and hold for another three seconds. Repeat 10-12 times.
Shoulder blade squeeze. Sitting up straight, rest your hands in your lap and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your shoulders down and hold for 3 seconds. Release and repeat.
Toe taps. While sitting in a chair, lift your toes while keeping your heels on the ground. You should be able to feel the muscles in your shin working. Repeat this 20 times.
Knee lifts. Sitting in a chair with your arms resting by your side. Contract your right leg muscles and lift your leg. Your knee and thigh should be three inches off the seat. Pause for three seconds and lower your leg. Repeat 10-12 times.
Seated rotation. Sit on a chair and hold a lightweight. Holding the weight at chest level, keep your knees and hips facing forward. Rotate your torso to the right as far as you can while contracting the muscles around your waist. Rotate back to the center and then to the left. Continue alternating sides for 12 reps.
Exercising at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, we’re always looking for ways to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our residents by creating easy exercises for seniors. Our state-of-the-art exercise equipment, certified personal trainers, and excellent group exercise classes allow residents to explore new activities that can help build strength and improve balance. To learn more about these offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.
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