5 simple and safe exercises for older adults

Senior couple doing sport outdoors

It’s important to stay active at any age. For seniors, it’s proven to lead to improved healing and function, prevention of disease and chronic conditions, increased balance and stability, and improved quality of life. Regular exercise can decrease feelings of depression, and improve overall mood and cognitive function.

The key is to find a workout that aligns with your fitness level and maintain a regular routine. To provide some ideas on where to get started, consider the following simple and safe exercises for older adults. As always, please remember to consult your physician for personalized advice and recommendations. You should also start with a mild warm-up, that includes basic stretches to further reduce the possibility of injury.

1. Wall push-ups

Wall push-ups help to strengthen your upper body. It is a modified version of the traditional horizontal push-up done on the floor. Instead, you will need to find a wall with no hangings, windows or doors. Place your hands on the wall in front of your body, keeping them at shoulder height and width. Make sure your feet are planted firmly while you keep your body straight and lean into the wall by bending your elbows. Push yourself back to your body’s original position by straightening your arms. Do this 10-20 times, increasing over time based on your comfort level and ability.

2. One-limb stance

Falls remain the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors. The one-limb stance can help improve balance, which in turn helps reduce the risk of falls. To get started, you will need a steady chair to be placed in front of you. Hold on to the back of the chair and raise one foot, then hold for as long as you can. Switch and do the same with the opposite foot, and continue going back and forth. The goal, as your balance improves, is to hold this stance for about a minute. This should eventually be done without the chair for support.

3. Toe lifts

Toe lifts are great for improving both strength and balance. While you’re still in front of a sturdy chair, grab hold again. You can use a countertop, too. Push yourself onto your tiptoes for as long as you feel able. Lower your body weight back down onto a flat foot and repeat. Aim to do this 20 times.

4. Shoulder and ankle rotations

Shoulder and ankle rotations are simple, but effective exercises for both strength, mobility and flexibility. You can do both of these while sitting down. For shoulders, rotate in a circular direction, up towards the ceiling and back down. Afterward, you can do this the opposite way, going down then up towards the direction of the ceiling. For ankle rolls, the idea is very similar. Instead of doing an up and down motion, circulate your ankle from left to right, then right to left in a circle with both feet. Repeat and aim to do 5-10 times, with each joint in the two directions.

5. Walking heel to toe, or marching in place

Both of these exercises help with bettering balance and providing a safe cardio workout for older people. These can be done indoors or outdoors, although you may need a chair for marching at first. Walking heel to toe is how it sounds, move one foot forward placing your heel down first and shifting your weight to your toes as you go. To move the next foot forward, do the same, but align the heel of your following foot with the toes of the last. Repeat 10-20 steps.

To march in place, stand straight and lift a knee, one after the other, in turns. You can use a chair for balance when first starting out, but with time balance should improve allowing you to complete the exercise without this added support. Aim to lift and lower your legs 10-20 times.

Kickin’ It Up at Seasons

In 2017, Seasons Retirement Communities set a goal to get our residents to move more with a company-wide initiative called the Kickin’ It Up program. How do we do this? We hold a fun, exciting activity a day in each of our homes and provide awesome incentives to increase participation like Button Month, Bring a Friend, and Passport Month. Seasons also provides education through regular tools in the home to increase awareness on the benefits of physical activity for seniors.

Sources: LifeLine & Nurse Next Door.

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