5 Kinds of Exercise That Senior Citizens Can Benefit From
By Ruby Alice
It’s been said countless times how physical activity is important for overall health. As advocated by the Community Health Alliance’s Healthy Living Program, exercise not only helps your physical health, but your mental and social health as well. It is also a good defense against diseases. As we age, this becomes more important since we’re more prone to illness.
Below we’ll be discussing five exercises and how they can benefit senior citizens.
Regular cardio is essential for seniors. It improves heart function and increases lung capacity. It also increases stamina and boosts the immune system. Livestrong suggests swimming as a go-to cardio exercise for seniors. Being submerged in the water makes this non-weight bearing activity easier on the joints. The added drag of the water also helps give you total-body conditioning even if you’re doing easy strokes.
Also known as chair squats, sit-and-stands are one of the best strength training exercises for seniors. Very Well Fit states that this helps seniors maintain the ability of getting in and out of chairs by improving leg strength, balance and control. While seated on a chair with the feet planted hip-distance apart, push yourself to a full standing position. Afterwards press your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself back into a seated position. For a challenge, the exercise can be done while holding weights.
Single Foot Stand
This exercise helps in maintaining balance, which is important for seniors as it lessens the chance of falling accidents. It starts by holding onto the back of a stable chair. Then, pick up your left foot with your left hand behind you and stand on your right foot for as long as possible. Only hold on to the chair if you start to lose balance. Afterwards, do the same with your other foot. Your aim should be to be able to stand on one foot for a whole minute without assistance.
Standing Calf Stretches
This exercise helps with flexibility, and is important in order to lengthen the leg muscles. To do the stretch, face a wall with your hands at eye-level. Place one leg behind the other while keeping the heel of your outstretched leg on the floor and bending the opposite knee. Hold the stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two times per leg.
Seated Torso Twists
Seated torso twists are a good way to engage the core and foster spinal mobility. This stretch requires you to be in a seated position with your feet planted hip-distance apart. Place your hands on the back of your head with your elbows pointing outward. With a steady pelvis and a straight back, exhale while twisting your torso to the right as far as you’re comfortable with. Inhale and come back to the center. Do the same with your left side, then try doing six to eight twists per side.
As more people live to be older than 65, the necessity to stay healthier as we age is increasing. This is especially important now since Business Insider claims that the high cost of elderly care is putting seniors into bankruptcy. In Maryville University’s health industry evaluation for nursing graduates they point to the increasing number of senior citizens and how it is creating a demand for more care specialists. In 15 years alone, the number of citizens over 65 grew by 16 million. This demand isn’t currently being met by the healthcare industry, so it’s important for seniors to stay in good physical shape to prevent the need for care. If senior citizens can take care of their own health through exercises such as these, they are less likely to pay for expensive healthcare costs in the future. This gives them more time and money to enjoy their retirement.
Getting into the habit of exercising may sound intimidating, but there’s no reason why it should be. Remember that if you aren’t already active, begin slowly. Start with exercises that you’re already comfortable doing, and consult with your doctor if needed. Starting slowly makes it less likely that you will injure yourself. It also helps prevent soreness, allowing you to fully enjoy the process. Exercise is something you can get into at any point of your life with the right guidance, and there’s no better day to start than today.