Fitness Exercises for Seniors. Having a regular fitness routine is important in everyone’s life and even more so as we age. Our fitness needs and requirements change over time, but maintaining a good level of fitness promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, functional muscles, and sturdy bones for years to come.
A growing body of research supports exercise in the older age and shows how much it affects our physical, cognitive, and functional abilities, improving our health and wellbeing, and promoting longevity. Staying physically active helps us stay independent for longer which really impacts our mental health. No one wants to feel like they need to depend on others for tasks that were once so natural, and regular exercise can help immensely in this department.
That being said, the way we workout changes as we age and there are certain exercises and types of training that become more beneficial than others. There are also some that’s best to avoid in order to prevent injury and strain that might be harmful to your health. Here are some of the best fitness exercises for seniors to help them maintain their fitness and stay vibrant and thriving for years to come.
1. Chair Yoga
Yoga is a wonderful practice that helps increase your flexibility and range of motion, helping you stay mobile and functional. Still, most poses require a higher level of balance and stability so that’s why a chair is used as a helpful tool to reap all the benefits without any risks of falling or injury.
Sit on the chair and work on stretching your side body, performing cat and cow, or learn how to best articulate your spine and explore movements in all of your joints.
2. Resistance Band Pull-Apart
Resistance bands are great tools for strengthening your muscles and lubricating your joints you can completely control and modify to your abilities. The only trick is to always keep the band tight so you can feel the resistance and have your muscles work for it.
Stand or sit in a comfortable position with your back straight. Brace your core muscles and extend your arms straight in front of you, holding the band in your palms. Inhale and pull apart the band, exhale and hold for a few seconds before releasing tension. Repeat 8-10 times. Go slow and controlled, constantly keeping the tension.
3. Lateral Raise
This is a great exercise to do with resistance bands, but it can also be done with dumbbells if you’re feeling safe. Start in a seated position to protect your back and grab your dumbbells or resistance bands. Inhale and lift your arms straight up your sides, stopping in level with your shoulders. Exhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring your arms back down. Repeat 10-12 times.
4. Shoulder Press
Another great exercise for your upper body involves a shoulder press motion you can easily do with resistance bands. If you want to use dumbbells, you definitely can, but make sure you take a lighter weight.
Sit at the edge of your chair or bench and straighten your spine. Bring your arms into cactus position right beside your head and keep your elbows in line with your shoulders. Inhale and on your exhale push the weight or resistance band up towards the sky, straightening your arms. Inhale and bring your arms back down, squeezing your elbows toward each other. Repeat 8-10 times.
5. Triceps Pulldown
Even though a cable machine would be very beneficial here, chances are not everyone will be able to work out in a gym setting. Luckily, resistance bands will do the trick. Wrap your resistance band to a sturdy object somewhere in line with your nose. Stand in front of your resistance band and grab it with both hands. Keep your posture solid and your core tight, and on your first exhale, pull the band straight down while keeping your elbows close to your body.
Feel your triceps tense up and the blood rushing into your muscles. Inhale, bend your elbows, exhale and pull. Repeat 10-12 times.
6. Chair Squats
There is no doubt that squats are one of the best exercises for your legs, but as we get older, the struggle of lifting up after squatting to our depts becomes a bit too much to handle and our lower back tends to overcompensate which can cause pain and risk injury.
Using a chair mitigates this problem as you can simply sit down whenever it feels like you’re overdoing it. Stand in front of a chair and separate your feet hip-width distance. Take an inhale and slowly bend your knees, lowering your hips like you’re really about to sit on the chair behind you. Stop one inch away from the chair and then exhale, extending your legs and squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat 10-15 times.
Just because your balance goes a bit off as you age doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on it. As a matter of fact, the more you work on it, the longer you’ll be able to prevent random falls and potentially dangerous loss of balance.
Stand in front of a stepper or a small step and start stepping up and down. You can alternate your feet, challenge yourself by stepping one at a time, or increase your pace and work on tightening your core muscles and really practicing your balance.
8. Wall Push-Ups
There’s rarely an exercise that can improve your chest strength than the good old push-ups. Basic floor push-ups can be quite challenging for seniors and modifying with their knees down might be too hard on their knees. That’s where wall push-ups come in and help do the same thing, just with less impact or fear of back strain.
Stand in front of a wall and step one of two feet away. Place your palms on the wall in line with your chest and inhale, bringing your straight body close to the wall, elbows close to your body or only slightly displayed out. Exhale and push your body back to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times.
The closer you get to the wall, the easier the push. So keep that in mind if you feel like it’s too easy or too challenging for you.
9. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is essential for strengthening your gluteal muscles which keep your hips aligned and help support your spine. Lie on a mat and bend your knees, bringing your feet close to your sitting bones. Place your hands on the floor next to you, palms facing down.
Inhale and lift your hips up, squeezing your glutes and pushing the floor away from you with your palms. Hold and breathe, feeling your muscles do all hard work of preventing your hips from dropping down. Repeat 10-12 times.
10. Chair Quadriceps Extension
Gym machines can be really hard on your body, especially since they’re really hard to control or modify. Using resistance bands to mimic the same exercise but with a lighter tension works your muscles in the same exact way, without the risk of injury or overdoing it.
Tie a resistance band to the base of your chair or bench and wrap it around your foot. Take an inhale and on your exhale, extend your leg and create tension in the resistance band. Inhale and bring your foot back down, exhale and extend. Repeat 10-12 times.
Seniors should definitely keep up their exercise regimen and modify it according to their strengths, abilities, and overall level of fitness. Add these exercises into your routine and feel the rush of energy speeding through your body, supplying each cell with oxygen and important nutrients.