Did you know that only 5% of adults participate in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day? The stats also show that the percentage of adults who engage in exercise decreases with age.
Fortunately, it is never too late to start!
We all know that exercise is good for us. But for seniors, research has described exercise as being akin to medicine.
If you want to take advantage of the benefits of exercise, the media is flooded with tips for the ultimate gym session. But most of these exercises are not suitable for senior adults, which is why we want to share with you some of the top exercises for older adults.
As one ages, it becomes increasingly important to exercise in ways that are safe, and that will not put a strain on the body or be likely to cause injury. Otherwise, an exercise regime may do more harm than good.
The great news is that many exercises will tone, strengthen, improve balance, and keep one young and supple – that are 100% safe for seniors.
Want to know what these are?
Walking is a popular form of exercise among older adults, and for a good reason. Walking counts as aerobic activity and is some of the best exercises for aging muscles. Aerobic exercise is known to support heart and cardiovascular health, improve circulation, and even prolong one’s lifespan according to science.
Besides being a good form of cardio, walking is a gentle exercise that keeps the body in a fluid motion without undue strain. Walking is a relatively safe exercise, and the risk of trips of falls is minor if done on even ground.
Brisk walking will provide the most benefits, but even gentle walks are beneficial. To meet the recommendations of the Department of Health and Human Services, try to aim for a daily walk of 30 minutes and over.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for older adults. Depending on how many laps you put in, and the pace at which you swim, swimming is a great way to get your heart rate up.
At the same time, it is also very gentle on the joints, and there is a minimal risk of injury.
While holding similar aerobic benefits to walking, swimming also has the advantage that it is an all-body exercise which works not only your legs, but your arms, chest, and stomach as well.
3. Wall Push-Ups
If you are not blessed with a pool but want to increase your upper body strength, a great way to do this as a senior is to do wall push-ups.
These are similar to regular push-ups, but instead of doing them on the ground, you do them against the wall. Stand at arm’s distance from a solid wall, place your hands on the wall, and execute a push-up. You will feel some resistance from the weight of your body, but not as much as with regular push-ups.
4. Knee Lifts
Knee lifts are a great way to safely work the upper leg muscles – from the comfort of your chair! All you need to do is sit on a chair that is the right height for your knees to bend at a ninety-degree angle.
Then, lift one knee upwards as far as is comfortable. Replace the foot back on the ground. Do the same with the other side and repeat until you feel that your upper leg muscles have had a good workout!
5. Ab Contractions
Similar to crunches, to do ab contractions lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Instead of doing a full crunch, tighten the muscles in your stomach, hold, and release.
Repeat this to get a great ab work out that is safe and gentle.
6. Toe Taps and Heal Lifts
To exercise the muscles in your lower legs, try doing some toe taps and heel lifts.
Sit in a suitable chair. For toe taps, lift the toes of each foot up, and then drop them back to the floor. For heal lifts, lift both heels off of the floor while keeping the toes on the floor. Release and repeat.
These exercises will work the muscles in the lower legs and increase blood circulation during prolonged periods of sitting.
Squats are an advanced exercise that is advised for seniors that have strong legs and who do not have trouble getting out of a seated position.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Extending your arms straight out in front of you, and lower yourself down to a semi-squatting position, taking care to keep your knees from pushing forward past your toes. You can hold the position for a few seconds, then rise and repeat for ten reps.
To increase the safety of this exercise, you can do it behind a sturdy chair, and use the chair back as support to stabilize your self.
If you struggle to rise from a seated position, skip squats and rather do the chair knee lifts.
8. Balancing Exercises
Besides working the lungs and heart and building muscle, another area that seniors should exercise and maintain is their balance. The saying goes, use it or lose it, and this is particularly true for balance.
As silly as it sounds, standing on one leg is a great way to maintain and improve your balance. To practice this safely, stand behind a sturdy chair and place your hands on the back. Lift one foot and balance for a few seconds. Then switch to the other side.
Another exercise to increase balance is heal-to-toe walking. Place one foot in front of the other, so that the heel of your front foot touches the toe of your back foot. You can do this next to a wall to be able to steady yourself if you feel unbalanced.
Another area of exercise that can be of great benefit in keeping one young and supple is stretching. Doing gentle stretches of the arms, shoulders back and legs can release tension, increase circulation, and guard against stiffness.
If you are nervous about any of the above exercises and are considering assisted living – take into consideration that being able to exercise safely with assistance nearby is one of the benefits that you can enjoy with assisted living.
Now You Know About Some of the Top Exercises for Older Adults
Regular exercise is so important for good health. Especially if you are an older adult. Some exercises, however, can be dangerous if one is a senior.
The good news is that there are many exercises for older adults that are safe and beneficial. And you now know about some of the best of these.
If besides setting up a fitness routine, you are also looking for a cellphone that is senior friendly, then be sure to check out our post on how to shop for cellphones for seniors.