5 Easy Exercises for Elders to Stay Active at Home
Unlock myriad health benefits with the help of these simple exercises.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is important at any age, but when it comes to senior citizens, a basic fitness regimen can stave off cardiovascular diseases and the onset of dementia, improve one’s mental health, control symptoms related to diabetes, and lead to an overall better functionality and sense of balance. Progress in the latter leads to a stronger sense of autonomy for the elderly, as they can partake in more activities around the house and rely less on others for assistance. In fact, while more research is being done on the subject, early studies by the National Institutes of Health show that in a study of about 3,000 participants, those who abided by at least four of their five pillars of healthy lifestyle behaviours (physical activity, not smoking, limited alcohol consumption, a holistic diet, and cognitive exercises), were found to have a 60 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
Over time, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to low muscle mass and strength, and exacerbate muscle stiffness, which ties in with being dependent and growing frustration because of that dependence increasing at an exponential rate. Of course, to see any improvement, a steady course has to be followed, and for a recommended amount of time per week (150 minutes per week is the recommended amount, but it’s best to consult your doctor to know what works best). Keeping this and one’s current physical condition in mind, there are a few easy exercises that can be performed to improve balance and mobility, and build strength and flexibility. Please do consult with your General Physician before starting any new routine and it’s best to slowly build up your level of activity over time.
Assisted Leg Raises
Targeted primarily at building strength in one’s lower back and glutes, this movement requires only a chair for support. Stand facing the back of the chair, holding on to the top for support. Then, slowly lift one leg back without bending the knee (it’s a small movement, if there’s too much pressure on the lower back, don’t push too far back). If possible, pause at the top for a moment and then bring it back down. Repeat with the other leg.
Improving one’s sense of balance is something that requires a long-term commitment and daily practice. This exercise challenges your calves and also strengthens them, making it a good one to have in your repertoire. And, it’s simple: You just have to stand on the balls of your feet, or tips of your toes, while holding on to something steady. Hold the position for as long as is comfortable (a couple of seconds is more than enough) and then come back to your heels slowly.
All you need is a wall to build upper body strength. Stand in front of it, your palms should be able to press against the surface, so choose any distance that’s comfortable for that. With your arms outstretched at shoulder level, power yourself towards the wall while keeping your feet on the floor and elbows bent. Then, once your face is close to the wall, push against it to come back to the starting position.
Another great balance exercise, you can use either a wall or chair for this one. If using a wall, stand facing it, fingertips touching it for support. Lift one leg, while keeping it bent, to hip level. Stay in this position for around 10 seconds and then lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg. For those using a chair, it’s essentially the same except you’ll stand next to it or behind it while holding on to the back. The best part about this exercise is that you can track your progress: The stronger you get, the longer you’ll be able to hold the position.
To learn more about assisted exercises and home care services in India, contact our caregiving team today at +1 (603) 718-4828 if you are based in North America, or at 1800-120-800-003 if you are based in India.
At Seva At Home, we produce a wealth of free health information to help elders live healthier, happier lives. This has been produced by independent research carried out by the Seva At Home team. This information is not a replacement for medical advice. Please consult your physician for relevant medical diagnosis and advice.