If you go to your neighbourhood park for a morning run, you’re very likely to find groups of elderly people walking or practicing yoga and enjoying cheerful conversations with each other. This is probably because they have realised the importance of physical movement for their body and social interaction for their emotional well-being. However, this is not all. There are multiple other benefits of exercises for senior citizens, such as the reduced risk of diseases, a healthier and happier mind, reduced chances of falls and injuries, and improved cognitive function.
However, just knowing the benefits of exercise is not enough; it is also important to know the right exercises to do. For some people, old age is accompanied by joint pains, some people face vertigo, and some people can’t carry heavy items. In old age, the bones are not as strong as before and neither is the stamina as high. Therefore, the exercises that are normal for young people may not work out that well for seniors.
So, which exercises would be effective and safe for elders to do? In this blog, we’re discussing 9 exercises that elders can do for improved strength.
1. Brisk Walking & Climbing Stairs
Walking is an exercise that is ever- popular, no matter how young or old a person is. Offering multiple benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced blood sugar, weight loss, etc., walking is a great exercise for seniors. The best part is that walking is an enjoyable and easy activity that does not require much effort. Brisk walking for 30 to 40 minutes a day can help elders stay in the pink of health.
Similar to walking, climbing stairs at a comfortable pace is highly beneficial for heart health. This exercise increases the strength of the legs and keeps the body strong. Climbing stairs for 10 to 20 minutes makes for a good workout of the overall body. But do be careful and hold-on to the banister or railing while doing so.
Other than these two, some other cardio exercises for senior citizens are cycling, swimming, aerobics, and jogging. However, elders must stay careful about these exercises and only attempt them if they are completely comfortable with them. For example, only those who are confident about their knees and body balance should go for cycling.
2. Wall Pushups
Pushups are another age-old exercise that always seems to work. However, it takes a lot of upper body strength to complete a set of pushups, and as one gets older, the body is sometimes no longer equipped to handle regular pushups.
An exciting alternative to regular pushups is wall pushups. Here’s how to do wall pushups:
1. Stand against a wall at arms’ distance.
2. Keep the two feet shoulders’ width apart.
3. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder level.
4. Bend your elbow to get closer to the wall and come back. (Basically, imitate a regular pushup, just on a wall).
Wall pushups are one of the best exercises for the elderly that can be done at home. They help boost the strength of the shoulders and the chest.
3. Chair Exercises
Did you know that you don’t need expensive gym equipment to do strength exercises? You can easily use items around the house to function as tools for your exercise, the chair being one of the most useful ones. Here are three powerful strength exercises that can be done at home using a chair.
4. Chair Squats
Chair squats is one of the best exercises for senior citizens to build thigh and leg strength. To do this exercise, the person has to sit on a chair with the back straight, then stand up without completely straightening the legs, and then sit back. While standing up, the pressure is to be put on thighs, and knees are to be kept steady.
5. Single Leg Stances
To do this exercise, one has to stand behind a chair and hold it for support. Then, you have to lift one leg up and hold it in the air for as many seconds as possible. Then, you have to repeat this with the other leg. Older people can start this exercise with 5 seconds hold and gradually increase it as per their comfort level.
6. Calf Raises
This exercise again uses a chair for support and strengthens the calf muscles. In this exercise, all one has to do is keep both the feet close to each other and lift their heels repeatedly. The slower they move, the more thorough the workout would be. Seniors can start by doing 10 calf raises and increase the count as they get used to it.
7. Dumb-bell Exercises for Arms
Using weights or dumbbells to exercise is not only meant for youngsters. Even senior citizens can go for dumbbell exercises, as long as they’re lifting weights that suit their body’s capacity. Using 2 to 5 kg weights to exercise can help them gain good muscular strength in the arms and shoulders. Here are 3 basic dumbbell exercises that they can safely do at home.
8. Bicep Curls
Men love flaunting their arms, no matter what age they are. And this is why bicep curls are one of the most loved exercises for older men too. Elders can use weights from 2 to 5 kg to do bicep curls as per their comfort. Moreover, they can decide whether to use both arms at once or alternatively, as per their comfort level again.
9. Overhead Tricep Extension
As obvious from the name, this is an exercise for strengthening the tricep muscles. Elders can start this exercise with a dumbbell of 3 to 4 kg. Doing tricep exercises regularly, improves muscular flexibility of the arms and will help in performing everyday tasks related to pushing, pulling, and lifting etc. This is a safe exercise for the elderly when done under the guidance of a trained professional.
10. Front and Lateral Raises
Front raises and lateral raises are exercises that strengthen the shoulder muscles. In front raises, one has to hold dumbbells in front of the thighs and lift them straight up until they reach shoulder level. Just remember not to bend the elbows in the process. Lateral raises are performed in a similar fashion, except that the arms are placed on the side of the thighs and moved sidewards.
The three exercises mentioned above work together to build a strong upper body and account for a good workout for senior citizens.
11. Lie-Down/Floor Exercises
This section lists the exercises that can be done on a yoga mat. These exercises are fun, and at the same time, offer increased flexibility and strength to the body. Here are the best 4 exercises of this category for elders.
i. Dead bugs – This is among the best core-strengthening exercises for senior citizens. It requires the arms and legs to move, and the spine to stay still. This exercise helps elders perform activities like walking up a slope and throwing an object in a better way.
ii. Hip bridges – This is a great alternative for elders who are not able to do squats for various reasons. Hip bridges help strengthen the hamstring, lower back, abs, and hip muscles. This exercise increases flexibility, relieves knee and back pain, and improves core strength.
iii. Bird dog – The bird dog exercise is among the best stability exercises for elderly people. In addition to that, this workout strengthens the spine and the core.
iv. Cat-cow – This is an easy-to-do stretching exercise that helps relieve back pain and keep the spine strong.
Elderly people are generally conscious about maintaining their health and therefore keep a close tab on their medicines, food, and exercise. The above-mentioned workouts are light to moderate in intensity and can be easily done at home with little guidance and support.
Emoha Elder Care is a community of elders and caregivers who help them out in their day-to-day needs. We have a group of trained experts who can help elders with their exercise needs and even provide physiotherapy at home service if required. We always believe in keeping #EldersFirst