I’m not a fitness guru but I love to keep moving.
It is a well known fact that exercising improves the immune system and helps release some of those feel good endorphins.
In this blog I want to take the opportunity to inspire you to start moving… and I don’t mean in your car towing your van behind!
You probably already know that regular physical activity is an important contributor to good overall health including promoting healthy weight and reducing chronic disease risk. However, the physical activity levels of many people, both in Australia and around the world, are less than the optimal level recommended to gain a health benefit.
In order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and functional health, reduce the risk of disease, depression and cognitive decline:
- Older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
- For additional health benefits, older adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Older adults, with poor mobility, should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities, involving major muscle groups, should be done on 2 or more days a week.
- When older adults cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
For further information click below and download the complete document “Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health” available in: Global recommendations on physical activity for health
Although moderate physical activity such as brisk walking is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Exercise intensity warning signs
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and seek medical help:
- extreme breathlessness
- breathing problems such as wheezing or coughing chest pain or pressure
- extreme perspiration
- dizziness or fainting
- severe muscle pain or cramps
- severe pain in any muscles or joints
- extreme and long-lasting fatigue after exercising
Are you ready to stay fit on the road – well let’s get started!
Safe Cardio Workouts
Low-impact aerobic activities are safe for most adults over 60. Those who perform aerobic workouts gain increased heart strength and a reduced chance of cancer and stroke. Aerobic workouts also burn calories quickly.
Walking briskly five days per week is an ideal exercise for beginners.
- Aim to walk 500 metres to 1 kilometre for at least two weeks and build your endurance so that you can safely walk 1 – 2 kilometres by your fifth week.
Regular bicycle riding is a safe alternative to walking for seniors who find foot exercise too stressful on the joints.
- Aim to ride for 30 to 60 minutes, five days a week – and check out this website https://bikemunk.com/cycling-ageing/
A Workout You Can Do Anywhere…
Stretching Exercise for Seniors
Upper Back Stretch
- Begin seated with relaxed shoulders.
- Extend arms forward at shoulder height and grab one hand with the other and push outwards while pulling your back and shoulders forward.
- Hold for 10 seconds and release.
- Begin seated with relaxed shoulders.
- Pull extended arms back while grabbing one hand, keeping both hands down near the buttocks.
- Pull your shoulders back and hold for 10 seconds and release.
Sit and Reach Stretch
- Sit at the edge of a chair and extend your legs forward with your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your heels on the floor and toes pointed toward the ceiling.
- Extend both arms in front and reach to touch your toes, while slowly bending at the waist without bouncing.
- Hold for 10 seconds then return to resting position.
- Begin seated and slowly tilt your head to your right shoulder.
- Hold this position and extend your left arm to the side and downward at waist level.
- Release, then repeat on the left side. Repeat twice on each side.
Inner Thigh Stretch
- Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes pointing slightly outward.
- Slowly lean to your left side by bending your left knee while keeping your right leg straight.
- Keep your left knee from passing your toes.
- Hold for 10 seconds then return to resting position and repeat on the right.
- Begin seated and place fingertips on your shoulders.
- Circle your shoulders 15 times forwards, then 15 times backwards.
- Begin seated with hands reached out in front of you, palms facing down.
- Open both hands to spread your fingers apart, then close your hands. Repeat 10 times.
II. Balance Exercises for Seniors
- Stand with feet together and arm relaxed at sides. Hold onto a chair for support if needed.
- Bend one knee to lift the foot slightly off the ground and balance with your other leg.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with other leg.
Single Limb Stance With Arm
- Stand with feet together and arm relaxed at sides. Hold onto a chair for support if needed.
- Raise your left arm overhead and raise your left leg forward and off the floor.
- Hold for 10 seconds then repeat on other side.
Toe the line
- Stand with arms relaxed at sides.
- Move one foot forward, placing the heel of one foot touching or as close as possible to the toes of your other foot. Repeat for 15-20 steps.
Side Leg Raises
- Stand behind a chair or counter with one or both hands using resting on it for support.
- Lift your right leg out to the side and repeat 10 times for each leg.
- Begin standing, holding a chair with your left hand. Imagine a clock with 12 o’clock in front of you and 6 behind.
- Stand on your left leg, bring your right arm to 12 o’clock and reach to 3 o’clock to your side, and 6 o’clock towards the back. Repeat with other side.
III. Chair Exercises for Seniors
Front Arm Raises
- Begin seated, holding a ball in both hands with your palms facing each other.
- Extend your arms forward so the ball rests on your legs, with your elbows slightly bent.
- Slowly raise your arms to lift the ball to shoulder level, then lower back down, taking about 3 seconds to raise and lower. Repeat 10-15 times.
Seated Shin Strengthener
- Begin seated on the edge of a chair with legs extended, heels on the floor and knees slightly bent.
- Point your toes downward, then flex upward.
- Do 15 repetitions, relax, then do 15 more repetitions.
- Hold the back of a chair. Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder-width, while pointing toes outward slightly.
- Bend your knees slowly, using 2 full seconds to lower yourself. Adjust leg position if needed to keep legs far enough apart so the knees don’t pass your toes as you bend.
- Perform 8 times, then rest. Perform another set, doing as many as you can do in good form.
- Begin seated, holding a ball with hands close to your stomach and elbows slightly bent.
- Slowly rotate your torso to the right as much as you comfortably can, while keeping the rest of your body stable.
- Return to the center and repeat on the left. Repeat until you complete 8 twists per side.
IV. Core Exercises for Seniors
- Lie on your back with legs flat against the ground and feet relaxed.
- Contract your abdominal muscles while raising one leg 5 inches off the floor and hold for 3 seconds.
- Lower and repeat on your other leg. Repeat 5 times each side.
- Lie on your back with your hands behind your head.
- Bend your knees and lift your feet so your calves are parallel to the floor.
- While drawing in your belly button and exhaling, bring one knee to your chest while reaching for it with your elbow on the opposite side. It should look almost as if you were pedaling a bicycle.
- Repeat on the side, and continue with repetitions for 30 seconds.
- Rest for one minute, and repeat with another 30-second set.
- Sit on an exercise ball, a bosu ball or a roman chair.
- If using a ball, begin by placing your feet flat on the ground. If using a roman chair, begin by tucking your legs under the leg support.
- Bend your torso to a 45-degree angle from the floor. Place your arms across your chest and lean back as far as you can.
- Then move forward and slowly twist to the left then lean back again slowly to the start position. Repeat on the right side. Do three sets of 15 reps each.
- Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Place one hand behind your head and the other arm stretched out to one side.
- Lean over to the side as if reaching toward the floor.
- Contract your obliques and return to the starting position, while keeping your chest from falling forward and keeping your feet flat on the floor. Repeat five times on each side.
Seated Knee Lifts
- Begin seated on a floor mat or a bench.
- Slowly draw both of your knees towards your chest they touch your chest or until your legs touch your abs.
- Perform 15 to 20 repetitions for one set, and complete three sets total.
Cardio and Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors
- Draw a ladder design on the floor with chalk or tape.
- Walk through the steps of the ladder by putting one foot in a square, then bringing the other foot into the same square.
- Move to the next square and continue until you reach the end of the ladder. Turn around and repeat.
- Begin at the bottom of a set of stairs. Step on the first stair with your left foot.
- Then, lift your right foot off the floor and hold it in the air for one second.
- Step down with your right leg, then the left.
- Repeat on the opposite side and repeat 10 times per side.
Keeping impact low on the body during exercise may be required by some for many reasons including arthritis and joint pain. For this reason, water aerobics has become a popular choice form of exercise for seniors. It’s a safe and effective way to get a workout for the entire body without traditional weights.
Water aerobics helps build strength and endurance and since most classes are taken in shallow water, even seniors who don’t know how to swim can participate. Gyms and community pools usually provide these classes. Some popular water aerobic exercises include aqua jogging, leg lifts, including various balance and strength builders.
Biking & Elliptical
For a low-impact workout, consider bicycling and the elliptical machine. These may not be the first exercises to come to mind for low-impact exercises, but they are effective options since they transfer minimal shock to your joints and your body. Both exercises are easy on your joints and body in terms of impact.
Cycling on the road and on a stationary bike are both viable options for a low-impact workout. If cycling on the road, you can use an electric bicycle for exercise and also as an effective form of commute. The assistance from the motor helps through tough terrain and makes hills easier, allowing To make it even easier on your back and neck, a recumbent bicycle is a good alternative as well.
While it might not seem like a low-impact exercise, cycling is actually very easy on the joints since your body absorbs minimal shock from pedaling. You can ride a stationary bike at the gym or invest in a road bike to pedal around your neighborhood. If an upright bicycle is too hard on your back, neck and shoulders, try a recumbent bike instead. Unlike an upright bike, where you’re bent over the handlebars, a recumbent bike allows you to sit back with the pedals and handlebars right in front of you.
The fact that most tai chi practitioners begin after the age of 50 is a clear sign that it’s a good form of exercise for seniors. Tai chi is type of meditative exercise that focuses on slow, low-impact movements, and breathing technique.
Tai chi has been shown to improve balance, strength, and flexibility while remaining gentle on the joints. Its routines are adaptable to your skill level and you don’t need any kind of equipment to start practicing, so it’s easy for anyone to get started.
As you advance, tai chi routines and forms can get advanced, keeping you challenged, and working out your cardiovascular system at the same time.
Strength Exercises for Seniors
Partial Squat & Half-Squat Against a Wall
- Begin standing up, using a chair for support.
- Bend your knees as far as you comfortably can without having your knees pass your toes, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- For a more advanced version try the half-squat against the wall: perform this against the wall and bend your knees to almost 90 degrees as if you were sitting on an invisible chair.
- Place your forearm on a chair’s armrest with your hand hanging over the edge.
- Hold a weight with your palm facing upward.
- Slowly bend your wrist up and down, then repeat 10 times.
- Switch sides, and perform 10 reps with your other hand. Repeat one more set of 10 on each side.
- Choose a dumbbell heavy enough that you can only complete 10-12 reps.
- Begin sitting in a chair with one dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing forward, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Bend your arm at the elbows to lift the dumbbell ¾ of the way to your shoulders, without moving your elbows away from your side.
- Do 10 to 12 repetitions per arm.
Upright Front Row
- Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and partially leaning forward.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand in front of you, with palms facing toward your body.
- Lift both dumbbells toward your chin while keeping your back straight and shoulders stationary.
- Return to starting position and repeat 10 times.
- Begin seated in a chair with your back straight and knees bent.
- Slowly extend your right leg forward and hold for a few seconds before lowering back to starting position.
- Repeat with your left leg.
- Do 10 reps per leg.
Strength training exercises – at least 2 days per week.
Start with a basic 20-minute resistance band workout.
Resistance bands can travel with you. In fact, they can be used to assist with body-weight exercises that you might not otherwise be strong enough to perform.
Beginner Resistance Band Workout Routine
Strengthen muscles throughout your body with a beginner resistance band workout routine that targets your major muscle groups. Choose the band with the lightest resistance.
For example, when doing TheraBand exercises for seniors, begin with a yellow band. Once you are able to do three sets of 10 repetitions of a particular exercise, progress to the next resistance level. Be sure to back down to one set of 10 each time you make a jump to a new color band.
Use proper posture when performing upper body exercises, to protect your joints and spine. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, as if you are putting them into your back pockets. Tuck your chin slightly and look straight ahead.
Strengthening the muscles in your chest and back will help you maintain proper posture and make daily tasks — such as lifting groceries and pushing a door open — less difficult.
Upper Body and Chest Exercises
Perform these exercises on each side of the body.
While upper body exercises can be performed in a standing position, sitting down is safer — particularly if you have challenges with your balance.
Move 1: Bicep Curls
- Place one end of the band under your right foot. Hold the opposite end of the band in your right hand.
- Keeping your arm tight by your side, bend your elbow as far as possible, against the resistance of the band.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then slowly lower back down. Do not allow the band to “snap” back to the starting position — this could lead to injury.
Move 2: Triceps Pulldowns
- Secure one end of the band in a door jamb at shoulder-height. Hold the opposite end of the band in your right hand.
- Hold your upper arm against your body and bend your elbow. This is the starting position.
- Push your hand down and straighten your elbow all the way, without leaning your body forward.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Move 3: Shoulder Extension
- Secure the band at an overhead height. Straighten your elbow, and raise your arm to shoulder height.
- Keeping your elbow straight, pull your arm down until it is at your side. Slowly return to the starting position. Keep your trunk still throughout the movement.
Move 4: Chest Press
- Sit up straight with good posture. Loop the band behind your back, at chest level.
- Hold one end of the band in each hand and bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
- Beginning with your elbows by your sides, straighten your arms at the same time against the resistance of the band.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Move 5: Seated Rows
- Secure the middle of the resistance band in a door jamb at waist height and hold one end of the band in each hand. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows straight back. Keep your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then slowly return to the starting position.
Lower Body Exercises
Aimed at targeting the muscles in your hips and thighs.
Use caution — these exercises are performed in a standing position. If you’re concerned about your balance, place one hand on the back of a chair for support.
As with the upper body, perform these exercises on both sides of the body.
Move 1: Hip Abduction
- Loop the resistance band around your ankles; then stand on the leg closest to the chair.
- Lift your opposite leg out to the side, without leaning your upper body. Keep your knee straight to target your glute muscles — you should feel tension in the muscles on the outside of your hip.
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
Move 2: Hip Extension
- With the band looped around your ankles, shift your weight onto the leg next to the chair.
- Keeping your knee straight, lift your leg straight back behind you — the muscles in your buttocks and the back of your thigh should tighten during this movement.
Read more: TheraBand Exercises for Legs
Move 3: Hip Flexion
- Keeping the band looped around your ankles, lift one leg straight out in front of you as far as possible — without leaning backward.
- Slowly lower back down, and repeat.
For seniors practicing yoga, there are many benefits – both short and long term. Yoga is a form of exercise that adapts to your needs and abilities, making it completely accessible to even the most elderly. In a time when you are more susceptible to ailments such as arthritis, rheumatism, incontinence, high blood pressure and the overall degeneration of the body, performing a mild practice of yoga can be very beneficial.
According to research presented by Reuters Health, there is evidence that yoga-based exercise programs can improve the mobility of people aged 60+, and could potentially help prevent falls by improving balance.