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5 Simple Exercises for Seniors to Remain Active

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While staying active helps seniors look and feel their best, regular exercise can also prevent health complications later in life.

By improving balance, endurance, flexibility and strength, seniors can stay healthier longer. However, factors like limited mobility can make a difference in the types of exercise a senior is able to do. Low-impact exercises allow for less strain on the body, while still providing a means for staying physically active.

For simple ways seniors can get more exercise, continue reading below.

1. Stretch

Does your senior loved one complain about stiff joints or tight muscles? With simple and short movements, stretching keeps the muscles flexible to maintain a range of motion in the joints. This is important for seniors to stay fit and functional, and remain independent as they age.

Stretching can be done either sitting or standing, and involves both the upper and lower body. Seniors should stretch before and after every workout, but stretching can be considered a form of exercise, too.

2. Walk 

For seniors, walking offers numerous heart health benefits. It brings up their heart rate, which in turn, lowers their blood pressure.

Besides a good pair of shoes, walking requires no extra equipment. Not to mention, seniors can walk basically anywhere—for free. When the weather permits, they can head to the park for a stroll to get outdoors and smell the fresh air. Or, they can meet up with nearby friends and walk around the neighborhood. 

If it’s too cold to go outside, seniors can head to a shopping mall to walk inside. This offers a simple way for seniors to exercise and engage with others while out and about.

3. Lift Light Weights

Lifting everyday objects becomes more difficult as you age. Simple arm exercises that incorporate light weights can strengthen the muscles involved with these movements. And remember that weight lifting for seniors is much more about motion than it is the amount of weight lifted.

Just like stretching, seniors can lift weights either sitting or standing. They can also opt to use household items like laundry detergent with a handle or a book, instead of formal dumbbells. 

Below, is a list of simple, senior friendly weight exercises:

  • Bicep curl: Hold a weighted objet in each hand. Rest your elbows at your sides and extend your forearms out. Bring the object all the way up to your shoulders by bending your elbows. Then, reverse the curl slowly back down and repeat.
  • Lateral raise: Hold a weighted object in each hand at your sides. Keep your back straight, brace your core and then slowly lift the weights out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor. Make sure your elbows are slightly bent during this movement. Reverse and repeat.
  • Shoulder press: Hold the object by your shoulders with your palms facing forward and your elbows out to the sides at a 90-degree angle. Next, extend through your elbows to press the dumbbells or object above your head. Then, slowly return to the starting position.
  • Upright row: Hold a dumbbell or object in each hand with your feet hip-width apart. Your palms should be facing your body. Keep your chest up and your abs braced, and then lift the weights by raising your elbows out to the sides until they come in line with your shoulders. With control, slide them back down to your waist and repeat.

Elastic bands are a good alternative to weights, as you can adjust the resistance as needed.

4. Climb the Stairs 

Does your loved one have access to a set of stairs? Stair climbing is another simple exercise he or she can do that requires no special equipment.

It helps to build and tone leg muscles, which in turn, reduces the risk of injury from falls, trips and slips. It can also be an effective exercise for improving balance among seniors by repeatedly lifting their body against the pull of gravity.

5. Arm and Leg Raises  

Arm and leg raises challenge a number of upper and lower body muscles, including the shoulders and calves.

During this exercise, seniors are advised to keep their abs braced when extending arms or legs. To ensure proper form, follow these instructions:

  • Arm raises: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms out to your sides. Slowly lift your arms up until they’re parallel with your shoulders. With control, lower them back down and repeat. You can also circle your arms for extended motion. Circle your arms forward using controlled motions, gradually making the circles bigger. You can reverse the direction of your arms.
  • Leg raises: If standing, lift one leg out to the side, keeping it completely aligned from hip to heel. Keep a slight bend in the supporting leg and make sure your back is straight. If lying down, lay flat with your arms at your sides and legs stretched out next to each other. As you raise your legs, make sure to keep them as straight as possible, with your back parallel to the ground. Lift them until they’re pointing at the ceiling, or as close as you can get.

If you or your loved one is worried about stability, use a chair for balance. There are available modifications for each of these movements.

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Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.

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