The Best Home Exercises for Seniors
Finding the best home exercises for seniors will help them keep their strength and balance, which will decrease their risk of falling. Fortunately there are things that can be done at home so that it is convenient and easy for seniors to get in a quick workout without too much trouble.
As people age, changes in their health and body composition impact their ability to stand and walk steadily. With balance being an issue, the chance of falling increases and that is especially dangerous for those who are frail to begin with. Gentle exercises that are done at home will help enhance balance and coordination.
Reasons for Home Exercise
Just as exercise is important for kids and adults, exercise is equally important, if not more so, for seniors. The challenge with many seniors is getting them to actually do the exercises. For those who can’t drive or don’t have access to a vehicle, it is difficult to get to an exercise facility without bothering a friend or family member.
Because many seniors are unsteady on their feet, it is not always practical or safe to go for a walk by themselves. While seniors living in assisted living facilities have more resources and support for exercising, those who live at home find it to be more of a challenge. That is why having an arsenal of exercises that can be done at home is so important.
One of the biggest reasons for exercising as a senior is to increase muscle tone and improve balance and coordination in order to prevent falls. Falls can lead to a number of things, none of which are good.
Most people are aware that falling as a senior often leads to a broken hip. In fact, falls cause 90% of all hip fractures. Brain injury can also result from a fall. The Centers for Disease Control reports that deaths and hospitalizations related to traumatic brain injuries are the highest for adults who are 75 years of age and older.
Although exercise is important, seniors are still reluctant to do it, especially if they haven’t been very active in the past. The National Institute of Health reports that some seniors are afraid that exercise will harm them or it will be too difficult and inconvenient.
Home exercises allow seniors to get some physical activity in the comfort of their own home as well as get the benefits of exercise. It also gives them something to do to break up the monotony of many of their days.
Examples of Home Exercises
There are many ways that you can stay active as a senior, including swimming, walking with your neighbors, or taking an aerobics class. For some seniors, however, getting out of the house can be difficult. That is why some exercises have been modified for home use. Most can be done in only a few minutes a day. Check with your doctor before doing anything too strenuous or if you are currently dealing with a health issue.
Stand on One Foot
A good balance exercise is to stand behind a sturdy chair, using it for balance, and lift one foot up so that you are standing on one foot. Hold it for as long as possible up to 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Do this 10 to 15 times.
Walk Heel to Toe
Another good balance exercise is to walk like you are on a tightrope, putting one foot directly in front of the other. Focus on one spot ahead of you in order stay steady. Walk for about 20 steps in this manner. Do this near a wall if you need help with steadiness.
Hold your arms out to the side, at shoulder height. Focus on one spot ahead and walk straight. With each step, lift up your back leg and pause for one second and then step forward. Alternate legs for 20 steps.
As you feel your balance improve, progress to more-challenging exercises. Some of these, such as the toe stand, back leg raise, side leg raise, and knee curl, can be found at the National Institute on Aging website.
To help strengthen the muscles in your lower extremities, try doing chair sits. Choose a steady chair in your house and practice assuming a sitting position without allowing your bottom to actually sit. Stand up and begin the move again. You may only be able to do a few reps at first but you will eventually be able to do more. Spread your arms if you need more balance.
Exercise bands provide resistance, which helps build strength, and they are inexpensive and easy to use at home. There are a number of different exercises that you can do on your lower and upper extremities with an exercise band.
You can use a set of light hand weights or something found at home such as canned foods or bags of rice to help build muscle. Try doing bicep and tricep curls, overhead raises, and chest presses.
Wall Push Ups
Pushups done against the wall are good to build your upper extremity and core muscles in your stomach and low back. Start by doing eight in a row if possible and increasing to 12 as you become stronger.
Staying active as a senior helps decrease your risk of certain diseases, cuts down on falls, and gives life to your years. Doing exercises at home is one way to stay active while staying in the comfort of your own place.