Older adults looking to create an exercise routine should try and get 150 minutes of moderate endurance activity each week. Each bit of time every day can improve strength, flexibility, and balance.
The summer is high time for slow, senior-friendly exercises like walking and gardening, but elderly people can do more to stay fit. While 150 minutes sounds like a lot, seniors and their caregivers can easily break it down into 10- or 15-minute chunks of exercise two or more times a day.
Strength: Chair Squats
The best exercises do not need specialized equipment. For instance, the Chair Squat can strengthen the lower body, and all one needs is a chair! To do this exercise:
- Stand in front of a chair with the feet as far apart as the hips.
- Bend the knees, with the shoulders and chest staying upright.
- Lower the bottom to sit down.
- Push the body back up, returning to a standing position.
Strength: Wall Push-Ups
Wall push-ups strengthen the upper body, focusing on the arms and chest, all without the person having to get on the floor! To do this simple exercise:
- Stand in front of a flat, sturdy wall as close as one needs to be and up to two feet away.
- Place the hands against the wall directly in front of the shoulders.
- Bend the elbows and lean towards the wall, keeping your body straight.
- Stop the face close to the wall and straighten the arms to push the body away from the wall.
- Do this in sets of 10 – 15 push-ups, two to three times a day.
Stretching: Head Turns
Getting into the habit of stretching every day will improve your range of motion and make every activity – including reaching for something in a cupboard – a more comfortable experience.
The Head Turn might be the simplest stretch possible, but it keeps the neck strong and mobile. It’s a good choice for seniors who drive or want to stay more aware of their surroundings! To do this stretching exercise:
- Stand or sit with the back straight and the shoulders relaxed.
- Turn the head slowly to one side (like a slow “no” shake) until a slight stretch is felt.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing deeply in and out.
- Turn the head slowly to the other side.
Stretching: The Back Stretch
With stretching exercises, one must try and target as much of the body as possible. The Back Stretch will get the blood flowing, helping seniors work towards greater mobility in the whole spine and back while reducing rounded shoulders. To do the Back Stretch:
- Standing tall and straight, put hands on hips.
- Looking up to the ceiling, arc backward gently. Hold this for three seconds, then return to standing.
- Repeat this stretch ten times.
Balance: Single Foot Stands And Toe Lifts
Accidental falls are one of the most common causes of injury for seniors. It’s necessary to add easy balance exercises, like the Single Foot Stand and Toe Lifts, into an exercise regimen. To perform the Single Foot Stand:
- Stand behind a steady chair or another stable surface.
- Pick up the right foot and balance on your left foot until no longer comfortable.
- Place the right foot down, lift the left foot, balance on the right foot until it no longer feels comfortable.
To do the Toe Lift, channel your inner ballerina:
- Stand beside or behind the stable chair or surface, placing the hands on the surface for support.
- With both feet, push up onto tippy toes as high as comfort allows, and then return to the flat position.
- Repeat five times.
If you or your elderly loved one are highly mobile, balance exercises can be more intensive. Routines such as yoga and tai chi are relaxing, and they make it easier to walk without losing one’s balance. If you’re a caregiver who knows the person you work with could do more, encourage them to try something new this summer!