For seniors, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for mental health, physical strength, and memory retention. While there are many things that factor into living in a healthy manner, exercise ranks high on the list. Your elderly loved ones can find great health benefits from incorporating senior-appropriate exercises into their daily routine.
A Safe Workout for the Elderly
Senior-appropriate exercises are designed to allow an elderly person to stay active while reducing the risk of injury or overexertion in the process. To achieve this delicate balance, help your senior loved one research safe but appealing exercises for them to practice. A few popular choices might include:
- Seated exercises
- Water aerobics
- Strength training
1) Seated Exercises
Though it may seem counterintuitive, there are plenty of effective exercises that don’t require you to stand up. A senior with limited mobility will appreciate the ability to work out while seated. A few excellent workout choices for seated positions include:
- Arm raises: Hold your arms out straight and hold a basketball or similar-sized ball in your hands. Rest the ball on your legs, then raise your hands up to shoulder height and lower them back to the original position.
- Shin stretches: Extend your legs and touch your heels to the floor. Point your toes as far forward as you can, then return your foot to a relaxed position.
- Twists: While seated with your feet on the floor to support you, bend your torso till it’s at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Relax your arms and lean back as far as you can to stretch your muscles. Repeat on each side.
2) Water Aerobics
For another form of low-impact exercises, considering encouraging your loved ones to try water aerobics. Not only is swimming fun, but it’s also a chance to let your loved one enjoy more rigorous physical activity without risk of injury. A few classic exercises, such as leg lifts or walking in place, are easy to replicate underwater.
Pro Tip: Make sure a qualified lifeguard or another supervisor will be watching your loved one as they exercise in the water. If something goes wrong, they can intervene quickly.
3) Strength Training
Easygoing strength training is also an excellent way for seniors to get some exercise. For a simple but effective strength training session, encourage your loved one to try one of these workouts:
- Arm curls: Hold a weight in one hand and raise it up to nearly shoulder level, keeping your elbows at your side. Repeat 10 times, then switch and repeat with your other arm.
- Knee extensions: Sitting in a chair, extend one leg out straight and hold for a few seconds. Return the leg to its starting position and repeat with your other leg.
Of course, any workout should end with a few stretches to prevent sore muscles. These quick and effective stretches will help relax your loved one after exercising:
- Shoulder circles: Place your fingertips on your shoulder, making a hole with your arm. Rotate your curled arm 10-15 times forward, then repeat with a backward motion.
- Hand stretches: Hold your arms out straight in front of you, palms facing down. Spread your fingers, hold for a few seconds, and bring your fingers back together.
- Back or chest stretches: To stretch your chest, place both hands behind your back and push your chest and shoulders forward. To stretch your back, press one hand in front of you with the other and push your chest and shoulders backward.
Encouraging Seniors to Stay Active
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of exercise, regular workouts are known to boost a person’s mental health as well. Encouraging exercise is thus an effective way to slow the onset of depression common in assisted living residents. With care to adjust to this increased level of activity, your senior loved ones will reap the benefits of safe, senior-appropriate exercises.
Join the conversation for more ideas on boosting your loved ones’ physical and mental health.