Top 7 Exercises for Seniors to Keep Active
Prioritising your health and wellbeing is crucial no matter how old you are or how young you feel. Staying active is the simplest way to achieve both physical and mental health as you get older. Exercise has a wide range of benefits that are increasingly important for seniors, including:
Building and maintaining physical strength, mobility and flexibility.
Improving balance and therefore reducing the risk of falls.
Reducing the risk and severity of some diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Reducing the risk of depression.
Improving your overall quality of life.
As experts in in-home elderly care, the team at Just For U Care know that moving your body for even 10-20 minutes a day can have a profound impact on your energy levels and overall sense of wellbeing. It is important however to be aware of your physical strength and capabilities when building an exercise plan. We recommend speaking with your GP or health care professional before introducing a new exercise or activity into your routine, particularly if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
Want to get moving but not sure how to start? Or, are you looking to change up your current exercise regime? To help you get started, here are 7 of the best exercises for seniors:
1. Chair Exercises
Perfect for those with limited mobility or balance issues, chair exercises offer a low-impact form of exercise that can improve your muscle strength, balance, flexibility and mobility.
Some exercises that can be done while sitting on a chair include:
Toe taps and heel raises
Some exercises that can be done while standing and using a chair for support include:
Shifting weight from leg to leg
Single leg balance
2. Strength Training
Strength training is important for building and maintaining muscle mass and bone density, which decline as we age. Light weights and stretchy resistance bands are popular for in-home strength training as they are easily accessible, beginner-friendly and affordable.
Strength training, such as bicep curls, chest pull, bent over row and leg or calf press, can be performed on their own or in conjunction with the above chair exercises.
If you wish to strengthen your body without the assistance of weights or resistance bands, we recommend exercises such as lunges, squats and wall push ups.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done almost anywhere, and at any pace you desire, making it a great option for seniors. It can help improve cardiovascular health, increase bone density, and reduce the risk of falls. To make the exercise interesting, you can listen to music or an audiobook while you walk, find new parks or walking paths for a change of scenery or walk with a friend or your in-home carer and turn it into a social outing.
4. Water Aerobics
Water aerobics is a low-impact exercise that places minimal pressure on your joints (making it ideal for seniors and particularly those with arthritis). It can improve cardiovascular health, flexibility, and strength (the water also provides resistance against the body without the need for weights).
Common water aerobics exercises include aqua walking/ jogging, arm curls, flutter kicking and leg lifts. Many community centres and local gyms offer water aerobics classes specifically for seniors - we recommend contacting them for a complete schedule.
5. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a gentle form of mind and body exercise combining slow, flowing movements with deep breathing and meditation. This low-impact form of exercise improves balance and flexibility in addition to reducing stress. Classes for all levels can be found around Melbourne, or you can search YouTube for instructional videos or Google to join a virtual class from home.
6. Yoga and Pilates
In addition to Tai Chi, yoga and pilates are also two low-impact options that strengthen the body while recharging the mind. With a focus on breathing, stretching and building your core strength, yoga and pilates can improve your flexibility, balance and strength while reducing stress. Many pilates and yoga studios as well as your local gym offer dedicated classes for seniors with tailored workout plans.
Another low-impact form of exercise, cycling is particularly beneficial as it works the cardiovascular system, promoting heart health, leg strength and balance while minimising pressure on the joints.
Another benefit of cycling is that it can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. For those feeling more adventurous or wanting to enjoy a beautiful day, a ride on a push bike will offer a great work-out. Or for those who prefer to exercise indoors, a stationary bike or training bike either at home or the gym can provide the perfect solution.
In addition, there are many organised groups for cycling, both in Melbourne and regional Victoria. We recommend checking out the COTA and U3A websites for more information on their local cycling groups.
With plenty of exercises to choose from, we are sure you will find something right for you! Just For U Care's in-home carers as well as our partner physios have a wealth of experience in guiding and assisting workouts to help you get moving and gain strength.