The desire for healthy aging and a long life is a great reason for every older adult to get up and get moving. Whether a person is currently living on their own and able to move around easily, or is chair-bound due to mobility issues, it’s important to remain as physically active as possible. One easy way to achieve this is through home exercises for seniors.
Stay Healthy and Be Safe
It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor prior to beginning an exercise regimen. Remember, home exercises for seniors call for the same attention to safety as a workout at a gym. At Clearwater Living, we've put together some tips to minimize injury:
- Be sure to clear a space in your home where you can move about freely. If on a rug or carpet, make sure it will not slide with your movements. If working out on a smooth surface, wear non-skid shoes.
- Warm up first for about five minutes so your heart rate can slowly increase and your muscles can loosen.
- Take frequent water breaks.
- Stay aware of how your body is responding so that you don’t push it too hard.
- When finished, cool down and gently stretch your muscles.
Why Stretching Is Important for Home Exercises for Seniors
According to Lifespan, stretching benefits include development and maintenance of strength, improved flexibility, and increased circulation and blood flow to provide a greater quality of life and healthy aging. If you or your loved one have painful joints due to arthritis, stretching can improve range of motion and make you more flexible.
Stretching also helps prevent falls by helping with balance and stability. And your energy levels go up when you stretch. Dynamic stretching, which involves movements that stretch muscles to their full range of motion, increases circulation and nutrient flow throughout the body. Examples would be arm circles, neck circles, squats, and leg swings.
Home Exercises for Seniors: Which Are Most Important?
The better your balance, the better you feel. It's a key aspect of healthy aging, one that can help an older adult stay independent and well. There are many factors that can affect balance, including chronic illness, arthritis, migraine, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, and the side effects of medications. That’s why keeping a good sense of balance requires ongoing effort.
Here are a few home exercises for seniors from Healthline that can help improve balance:
1. Rock the Boat.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Lift your arms and extend them out to the sides.
- Lift your left foot off the floor and bend your knee to bring your heel toward your bottom.
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
- Then do the opposite side.
- Do each side 3 times.
2. Tightrope Walk. This simple exercise improves balance, posture, and core strength.
- Lift your arms and extend them out to the sides.
- Walk in a straight line while focusing your gaze on a fixed point in the distance.
- Each time you raise your foot, pause with your foot in this raised position for 2 to 3 seconds.
- Take 20 to 30 steps.
Simply practicing standing on one foot at a time can help with balance. You can hold on to a chair if necessary. If using a walker, the motion is just as beneficial. Simply keep both hands on the walker as usual and lift one leg at a time.
According to the National Council on Aging, adding endurance activity can help boost cardiovascular function, strengthen lungs and airways, and improve everyday stamina. Thirty minutes a day is the recommended amount. This can include three short, 10-minute sessions spread out over the day.
Here are a few home exercises for seniors that offer aerobic benefits:
3. Running or marching in place. You can do this while watching television or first thing in the morning. Keep the move as simple as you choose. It’s an effective way to increase your heart rate.
4. Dancing to music. Who said exercising can’t be fun? Dancing is a great way to get your heart pumping and put a smile on your face. Wear a good pair of athletic shoes for support and stability and choose an even surface. Then pick the music and enjoy. For someone who is chairbound, moving the arms and legs improves circulation as well as boosts the mood and enhances overall wellbeing.
5. Trunk rotation. This exercise is a great aerobic workout and also works core muscles. Add a weight, exercise ball, or other household items to increase the intensity.
- Stand with a heavy object at chest height with elbows to the sides.
- Twist from the torso, turning to one side, then the other.
- You can also hold the arms at shoulder height and twist side to side.
As the CDC reminds us, home exercises for seniors that target strength help prevent osteoporosis and frailty by stimulating the growth of muscle and bone. Feeling strong also helps increase emotional and mental health. Strength training also can reduce pain and stiffness, improve overall cardiovascular health, increase metabolism, and strengthen back and abdominal muscles. Here are a few suggestions:
6. Wall pushup
- Stand about 3 feet away from a wall, facing the wall, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lean forward and place your hands flat on the wall, in line with your shoulders. Your body should be in plank position, with your spine straight, not sagging or arched.
- Lower your body toward the wall and then push back.
- Repeat 10 times.
7. Sit to Stand
- Stand in front of a sturdy chair with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart. Your heels should be about 6 inches in front of the chair, arms straight out in front.
- Slowly bend your knees and push your hips back to lower your body on the chair.
- Pause, then stand up again. That is one rep.
- Aim for two or three sets of 10 reps per day.
At Clearwater Living, our residents have many opportunities to stay active and be well. We call it Empowered Living, our philosophy that provides the pillars for a balanced lifestyle by bringing the Six Dimensions of Wellness to life. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a tour.