Staying fit should be a top priority for every senior citizen. When your body is in good shape, you will live more comfortably with fewer limitations. A healthy person is better able to fight off illness and recover from injuries. Improved strength and balance will reduce a senior’s fall risk.
Exercise also improves mental health and wellbeing. Physical activity releases endorphins that boost mood. Regular workouts improve cognitive function and motor skills, lowering the risk of dementia.
Sometimes, going outside or leaving your home isn’t an option. Bad weather makes travel dangerous while social distancing can force seniors to remain in their homes. When this happens, you should have a plan to continue your exercise routine indoors.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42.5% of people ages 65 to 74 met the federal guidelines for aerobic activity. Approximately 30.9% of people ages 75 to 84 met the guidelines. Those were improvements from previous years, which were around 35.7% and 24.5% respectively for each age group. These numbers should continue to increase as more seniors focus on their health.
Overall, a regular workout routine can improve your quality of life and help you remain independent for longer. The key is knowing how to safely exercise, even if you cannot leave home. The following list will help you build a senior-friendly indoor workout routine.
Walking Around at Home
Walking is a basic form of exercise that is beneficial at any age. It improves cardiovascular health, leading to better circulation and lower blood pressure. Studies conducted at the University of Tennessee and University of Colorado found that walking reduced the risk of stroke for older women.
A Harvard study of 12,000 people found that those who walked briskly for about one hour a day were less likely to experience the effects of over 30 obesity-promoting genes.
The easiest way to get started is to have a planned route through your home. You can increase distance by doing more laps, walking around the perimeter of each room, and by walking around furniture.
Assuming you have no limiting health issues, you should try to get in around 2.5 hours of walking per week. That translates to approximately 30 minutes of daily walking on most days of the week. If you can jog instead, then you can reduce that duration to 1 hour and 15 minutes weekly.
Before you begin, make sure you have cleared away any tripping hazards like low-sitting furniture and rugs. You should have a clear, even path to follow.
Housework Keeps You Fit
You can get things done and stay fit by working chores into your exercise routine. Doing things around the house also burns calories and uses your muscles. The effectiveness of each session will depend on what you are doing, so this might be harder to measure. However, it’s still beneficial in the end.
Have a plan to do as much of the housework as you safely can. You should only do things that you can do based on your mobility and health status. For example, if you have back problems, then carrying a heavy basket of laundry may not be a good idea. However, you could stand and fold the laundry once it’s done to get more time on your feet.
Vacuuming and sweeping floors are also great for physical health because it requires you to both stand and move your arms.
If you have questions about staying safe, talk to your doctor. They can assess your health and mobility and let you know if there are any chores you should avoid.
Low-Impact Yoga or Tai Chi
Tai Chi and Yoga are popular exercises for seniors. They are similar, both being low-impact and gentle on the body. They also introduce a mental component that encourages peace and calmness.
The internet is a great resource for seniors who want to expand their at-home exercise routine with one or both practices. You can search for free online videos that discuss how to get started. You can also connect with instructors that offer virtual classes for a more interactive experience.
Don’t forget to check in with your assisted living events coordinator to find out if they will be offering Yoga or Tai Chi classes or something similar. If you live in a retirement community, then you may have access to group workouts that don’t require travel to an off-site studio or gym.
When learning Tai Chi, Yoga, or any other new workout routine, remember to start slowly. Let yourself learn how to perform each move correctly for maximum benefit and to minimize the risk of injury.
If you are participating in a virtual class, remember that you should focus on personal progress rather than what those around you are doing. Everyone starts at a different ability level, so you should work to improve upon where you were rather than trying to catch up with others. This is the best way to stay motivated and push yourself to do better without getting frustrated or risking injury.
Strength and Balance Exercises
Good strength and balance are essential for senior citizens. Both have an impact on your daily activities. They play a role in your quality of life and significantly influence your fall risk.
A fall injury can be devastating for an older adult. Every year, around 3 million people go to the emergency room due to a fall. At least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for hip fractures annually. Over 95% of those fractures are caused by a fall. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Anything that you can do to reduce your fall risk is a smart move.
Many exercises that can help in this area. You can try walking heel to toe, putting one foot in front of the other so that your heel and toes touch each time you step. Walk 20 steps this way.
You can also try a single-limb stance. Hold on to the back of a sturdy chair. Lift your right foot and hold that position for as long as you can before switching to your left foot. You should work toward being able to perform this exercise with both legs for one minute without holding the chair.
Wall push-ups are another senior-safe exercise option. Stand one arm length away from a wall. Lean forward and put your palms on the wall at the same height and width as your shoulders. Next, slowly lower your body toward the wall and push back up. It works just like a regular push-up but without having to get on the floor.
Seated Exercises for Senior Citizens
Seniors with mobility limitations may prefer to try seated exercises. These involve sitting in a chair. It’s a better choice for people with back or balance issues. You can still burn calories and build muscle without risking your safety.
Always use a sturdy chair that doesn’t have wheels. You can warm up by doing 30 to 60 seconds of marching while seated followed by 30 seconds of arm circles. Repeat this process for 3 to 5 minutes before moving on.
Next, you can choose exercises based on your needs. If you want to build leg strength, try pillow squeezes. Place a pillow between your thighs or knees and squeeze using your inner thigh muscles. Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds before releasing. You should repeat this exercise 12 times.
If you want more of a challenge, add dumbbells to your seated workout. While sitting, hold a dumbbell in each hand and lift them to shoulder height. Next, raise your arms as high as you can then return them to your shoulder height again. Do this at least 12 times.
There are many ways to stay fit while at home. Come up with a workout routine that suits your needs without risking your safety. If you have questions, your doctor can provide more insight into what an ideal exercise regimen looks like for you.
Many assisted living communities offer exercise classes and fitness opportunities to residents. If you are interested in learning more about senior care, visit Vista Living.