Exercise at any capacity is vital for people of all ages, even seniors. It can maintain overall health, prevent injuries, and lower the risk of developing diseases. It is therefore tremendously beneficial for older adults to be physically active.
There are many different exercises seniors can do to reap health benefits. As with all exercise programs, don’t forget to consult with your family doctor, wear the proper clothing, stay hydrated, and stretch before and after. It is important to practice safe exercise for the elderly.
For people in wheelchairs or those who are seated most of the time, the following simple exercises can be done in a chair. They are low impact and designed to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. They involve the use of a plastic ball (about the size of your head) to create resistance and make the activity more fun. You can purchase one at a dollar store.
Front Arm Raises
Seated in good posture, hold a ball with both hands extended forward so that they rest on your knees, making sure to keep your elbows slightly bent. In a slow, fluid motion, raise your arms to lift the ball the shoulder level and lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times, rest for 1 minute, and do 3-5 of these sets. The slower you move, the more you are conditioning your arms and core to be strong and controlled.
In an upright, seated position, hold a ball with both hands close to your stomach, so that your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Slowly rotate your torso to the right as far as possible without moving your hips or legs. Return to the centre and rotate to the left side. Repeat the two twists 8 times before resting for 1 minute. Repeat until you have completed 3-5 sets of 8 full twists. This stretches and strengthens the sides of the waist or obliques. If you are helping someone in a wheelchair do these seated exercises, Silvert’s wheelchair pants will make the task easier.
Hold a ball with both hands in front of your chest. Squeeze it to activate your finger joints and push into the ball, as if trying to deflate it. Hold for 4 seconds before slowly releasing. Repeat this 8 times before a 1 minute rest. Complete 3-5 sets of 8 repetitions. This exercise improves grip, as well as strengthens the arms and chest.
Sit on the edge of your seat with your legs extended diagonally to the floor and knees slightly bent. Point your toes downward as far as possible, then flex them upward as far as possible. Repeat this 15 times before resting. Do 3-5 sets of 15 repetitions. This exercise effects the shin muscles and improves ankle flexibility but it is important to wear proper footwear while doing these exercises. Silvert’s non-slip resistant socks are perfect for doing any leg, ankle or foot exercises.
An extremely simple yet effective exercise is leg lifts. Simply sit on a chair and straighten your leg the best you can and lift up and down. Lifting up and down in a easy yet quick motion will help promote great circulation in your lower body. If you want to make it harder on yourself, try pulsing the leg. This means to try and hold it in the air, and lift and lower it without touching the ground. If you are simply lifting and lowering the leg to the ground, try sets of five to ten, and repeat it as many time as you can. If you are pulsing, try to make sure you only do it for around five to ten seconds so you don’t tire out too fast. This exercise is good to do a few times throughout the day to keep great circulation. It’s a great exercise to do at any time, and whatever condition a senior is in from day to day. Because of the amount of variations that can be made with this exercise.
It is incredible at how much standing up can do for your body. This doesn’t just apply for seniors but to anyone with a regular desk job. Often people don’t realize how important it is to just stand up and move around. People forget how long they sit for at a time, so make sure to stand up once every hour or so and do a small stretch. If you want to make it more of a work out, try slowly standing up and sitting down a few times every hour. It will help with energy and remind your metabolism to continue what it’s doing.