The best thing to do for your mind and body is exercise. While the classic squats and crunches can be difficult and dangerous for an aging body, there are exercises you can safely do to improve both your body and mind. Exercising improves brain activity, and with a healthy body comes a healthy mind.
Improvement in your energy level is another benefit of exercise. The more inactive you are, the more your body wants to stay inactive. A body in motion stays in motion. Exercise will also help with your balance, reducing the chance of falling which can be a very serious danger for anyone over 65.
The more exercise you do the more independence you will have. You are much less likely to depend on others for everyday needs when your body is healthier. Being able to walk, dress, bathe, and cook is a lot easier and less stressful when you’re able to do it yourself.
Take a look at these top 5 exercises and give them a try!
Dumbbells provide classic strength training and when done right it allows seniors to strengthen their muscles while simultaneously improving balance. There are many different ways to exercise with dumbbells but the most well known is the Bicep Curl. You can do these standing or sitting in a chair, so it’s a very accessible way to grow your arm muscle. Similar to the curl, the Front Raise is just as simple and just as familiar. Instead of curling in towards the body, it requires you to push outward, in front and away from the body.
Within the same movement as both the curl or the raise, try the Overhead Press, seamlessly moving from one technique to the next. It’s best to start with a lightweight dumbbell (try 1lb), especially for anyone not used to lifting any sort of weight above their head.
Another similar movement is the Tricep Extension, still lifting it above the head. With this, it’s best to start sitting down since it takes good balance to do while standing. This will also help balance, the more it is used. Balance can also be well learned from doing the Bent-Over Row exercise. This requires you to bend forward with your body making balance control key. Once learned, your balance will greatly improve.
A very popular exercise, movement in the water is great for anyone with joint pain because the water puts less stress on joints while still providing the strength building you need. First, try either the Leg Lifts or the Arm Curls. Depending on what part of the body you want to focus. The arm curls are similar to a bicep curl. This can be done with or without dumbbells in the water. Leg lifts focus on using all the muscles in the legs, helping build up both lower body strength as well as help with balance.
Flutter Kicks can be done either swimming forward or stationary, with the help of another person. This works both the lower and upper body strength and can be a good way to learn the basics of swimming. Aqua Jogging is another effective exercise that can be done in multiple ways. Holding onto the railing of the pool is a very sturdy way to start. After you have accomplished that you can try it with dumbbells, keeping yourself above the water as you kick.
When doing Standing Push-Ups in the water, it’s best to be on the edge of the pool, using the ledge to push against as you move. This works the upper arm strength the most and is great for muscle building.
Walking can be the easiest way to exercise and one of the most common ways to keep the body moving. The distance and speed should be determined by the comfort level of the individual. Try walking through Small Park Trails near or around your neighborhood. You’ll enjoy the convenience and it’s a fun way to get some fresh air.
When the weather doesn’t call for enjoying the outdoors or if you’re someone who wants to stay inside, Walking the Perimeter of a Building is a great way to get moving and walk without having to worry about the hot sun or rainy weather.
While walking solo, one fun way to pass the time is to Use an Audiobook or listen to music for stimulation. If you’re looking for a social way to enjoy walking, find a Walk-Friendly Race! Long-distance running or jogging races can be daunting and not much fun when it’s something your body isn’t used to. However, being able to compete in small races that are solely meant for walking is a good way to socialize and exercise at the same time.
Chair yoga is a very low impact form of exercise and, in its most simple form, can improve flexibility, strength, and balance. It’s also one of the most accessible forms of fitness. The best way to start your workout is with the Seated Cow/Cat Stretch, which involves pushing your chest outward, having your back create a curved shape (which is the cat pose) and then curving your body inward (creating the cow pose). It helps improve breathing and stretches the upper body, opening up your joints.
Similar to this, if not a little more involved, is the Overhead Stretch – reaching your arms above your head while breathing in. This helps calm the body and keeps the blood flow throughout your body. The Seated Mountain Pose involves holding on to the chair and pushing your feet into the ground and your back into the chair. This isn’t the only technique to stretch the back, the Seated Twist can open up the back and neck, as well as work your upper body strength in your arms.
Breathing and core strength are emphasized with this popular technique. Similar to chair yoga but a little more intense on the body, it uses a mat or balls to strengthen the body without high stress on the muscles or joints. Starting off with Leg or Side Circles can free up your hips and work to strengthen the legs. It’s simple and only requires laying on the mat, moving your legs in a circular motion.
Step Ups are another good starting point, again, working the leg muscles and building strength in your calves. You can do this at home on a staircase or using a stepping mat as well. Another technique that can help build and stretch through the length of the body is the Mermaid Movement. This works on loosening the hips and stretching not only the legs but the stomach as well.
More exercise for older adults is the best way to have longevity and to be fully independent with your own movement and your own body. Trying any of these techniques or keeping a regular schedule of movement can increase your health both physically and mentally. At The Terrace, we have many options of exercise for seniors including our own walking trails, Tai Chi, dancing, and weight classes.
Want to learn more about active senior living? Call us at 573-875-2538 or reach out online at any time!