5 Exercises for Active Seniors of All Ages
December 8, 2014
Maintaining an active lifestyle as we age is not only important for our physical health, but for our mental and emotional health as well. Regular exercise can help to boost your energy, manage symptoms of illness and pain, and help maintain your independence. Aerobic exercises like walking and swimming can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while strength workouts can keep your muscles and ligaments limber and improve your balance to help avoid falls. And most of all: you’ll feel great!
Before starting any exercise routine, it’s important to consult your doctor and be sure that you follow guidelines and precautions based on your age and health condition.
Ready to get moving? Here are 5 exercises for active seniors of all ages to get you started:
- Aerobic activity
One of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle is getting regular aerobic activity. Burn calories, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, maintain joint movement, and increase your energy levels with moderate endurance activities like brisk walking, tennis, and swimming. Begin with 5-minute sessions a few days a week to raise your heart rate. Gradually increase your time to about 30 minutes of aerobic activity for most days if you are able.
- Stretch your lower body
Keep your muscles and joints limber to increase flexibility and balance. There are a variety of exercises that can be done to stretch and strengthen your lower body simply by using a chair or other stable object. Stand behind a sturdy chair and breathe out as you lift one leg back at a time without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Hold the position for one minute, and then breathe in as you lower your leg. Repeat this motion 10 to 15 times, and then repeat the same series with your other leg. This exercise helps to strengthen your lower back and buttocks.
- Stretch your upper body
Keeping your upper body loose and flexible is a great way to avoid injury and maintain your independence. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your arms by your side. Slowly bring both arms behind your back and clasp hands. Keep your shoulders pulled back and hold the position for about 30 seconds, release and relax, then repeat at least 3 to 5 times. This exercise can help stretch your chest, arm, shoulders and upper back. And there are plenty more upper body exercises that can easily be done just about anywhere.
- Strengthen your arms with curls
Lifting everyday objects can get difficult as you age, but by regularly strengthening your arm muscles you can remain strong and independent. While seated or standing, hold light weights (5 to 10 lbs.), down by your side with your palms facing out. Keeping your elbows tucked in, bend your elbows and slowly lift the weights toward your chest. Hold for about one second, and then slowly lower your arms. Continue the movement for 10 repetitions, then rest, and repeat another set if you’re ready.
- Strengthen your lower body with squats
Building and maintaining muscle strength in your lower body helps prevent injury and enables more mobility as you age. Maintaining good form is also key to getting the most out of your exercises. You can begin by holding the back of a sturdy chair and while keeping your arms straight out in front of you, slowly lower your tailbone towards the floor. Be sure not to extend your knees past your toes as you lower your body to an almost-seated position. Hold the position for a few seconds then slowly return to standing. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat for two sets of 10 repetitions depending on your ability. Once you become more comfortable with the movement, you can do it without holding on to the chair.
Remaining active and strong at all ages is important for seniors’ health and happiness. Whatever your prior experience with exercise has been, you can always get started on the road to well-being. Just be sure to start slow and consult your doctor and care provider before starting your routine.
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