The benefits of exercise are known to everyone. And most people, in their middle age, try for once, to fit an exercise routine in their lives. However, as they start ageing, exercising and any form of physical activity gets off of their lists of priorities. The important question to ask is “can seniors above 50 do exercise?”
Not many are aware of the answer to this question. And therefore, only one in four elderly exercises regularly. Most people start living a sedentary lifestyle after they hit their 50s or 60s. Side effects of this inactive lifestyle include fall, obesity, heart diseases, reduction in brain function, and decreased life expectancy.
The National Institute for Ageing has stated that exercising is good for all age groups, and offers a number of benefits like improved life expectancy, prevents falls, reduced risk of strokes, reduced risk of dementia, delay in age-related diseases, and helps elderly be more independent and active.
Whether you have been active all your life or just giving it a thought now, it’s never too late to start enjoying the benefits exercising has to offer.
Here are some exercises that can help you get started, and once you catch up, you can move to more challenging exercises to improve your overall health.
Stretching Exercises for the Elderly
The flexibility of joints and muscles reduces by up to 50% as you grow older. Stretching exercises can help gain flexibility and assist smoother body movement. Also, regular stretching will help make other exercises easier for you. Start with a few basic stretches.
- Neck Stretch: Sitting upright on a chair, gently lean your head to one side and then to the other. Repeat ten times.
- Back Stretch: This stretch is great for the spine. Stand straight and place your hands on your hip. Now slightly arch backwards, looking at the ceiling, and hold for three to four seconds. Repeat ten times.
- Upper Back Stretch: While seated on a chair, raise arms forward at shoulder level and hold both the hands. Push outwards as you pull your back and shoulders forward. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat ten times.
- Shoulder Circles: Being seated, place your fingertips on your shoulders. Start by circling in forward motion. Do this for 15 times, and then repeat with a backward motion.
Chair Based Exercises for the Elderly
- Front Arm Raises: Begin seated on a chair with a ball in your hands. Extend arms forward to shoulder level, and then lower your arms where the ball rests on your knees. Slowly raise your arms again, hold for three seconds and lower. Repeat ten times.
- Tummy Twists: Remain in the same position as the previous exercise. Keep your elbows bent and ball close to your stomach. Now slowly move your torso to the right, as much as you can, hold for two seconds and come back to the centre. Repeat on the left side. Repeat ten times.
- Toe Lifts: Start by standing behind a chair, holding its back for support. Raise your heels as high as you can and lower back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Balancing Exercise in Elderly
- Flamingo Stand: Stand with your feet close and arms resting on the side. Now, bend your left knee and left your feet off the ground. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Take help of a chair for support if needed. Repeat with both legs ten times.
- Toe the Line: Start by standing with your feet close and arms on the sides. Now step forward, with the heel of your one foot touching the toes of others. Walk in this manner, repeating 15 to 20 steps.
Bed Exercises for the Elderly
- Arm Exercise
- Begin with lying on the bed, with arms resting. Now, make a fist, bend the elbows and touch the shoulders. Again, open hands, and rest the arms on the bed palms down. Repeat ten times.
- Begin with laying on the bed with arms on the side. Making a semi-circle, bring hands over the head and clap. Bring back the arms to the sides of your body and rest. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Leg Exercises
- Pumps: Lying straight on the bed, point your toes up and down. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
- Circles: Lying on the bed with toes pointing out; make complete circles with the toes, ten clockwise and then counter-clockwise.
- Squeeze your buttocks together and hold for a count of 10. Release and rest. Repeat ten times.
- Lying straight, place your heels on the bed. Now, slide your feet towards your buttocks, as much as comfortably possible. Straighten your legs and rest. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Lying straight, place a pillow under your knees. Begin with straightening out one leg, lifting the foot off the bed. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat for both the legs, 10 to 15 times.
These simple exercises do not require much physical strength and do not strain the body. Starting with the simple ones can get the seniors in the habit of working out, and slowly they can try more rigorous exercises. The exercises mentioned above are safe and secure to perform and can be done by anyone, from any age group.
Whether you are trying to push yourself or trying to take care of a senior family member, be aware that physical activity can help you/them become independent and aid in carrying out daily tasks with much ease.