You’ve seen the news reports. Sitting too much harms our health. Knowing more about the health risks would be helpful. You’d also welcome some tips on how to be active and enjoy it! Here are some easy fitness exercises for seniors and yourself to help you stay active throughout the day.
The Risks of Being Sedentary
When a person sits or reclines a lot, with little or no exercise, one is living a sedentary lifestyle. This includes hours of watching TV, sitting at a computer, or commuting. The list of risks is long. The bottom line is inactivity has the potential to harm your heart, circulation, muscles, bones, and immune system. Other risks include diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and anxiety. In other words, inactivity has head-to-toe risks!
Good Reasons for Easy Exercising
Now that you’ve read the gloomy list of risks, it’s time to consider the benefits of easy exercising. As you review these with your mom it helps to reflect on times in her life when she was regularly active. Many jobs, caring for children, and doing house and yard work involve an activity that engages muscles as well as minds.
Speaking of minds! That’s the first good reason to exercise. Even routine exercises require thought. As you think about what your body is doing, your brain is stimulated, doubling the benefit of exercise! Here are other good reasons to move:
- Muscle mass loss begins in our middle 40s—exercise slows loss.
- Ligaments and tendons stiffen with age, contributing to injuries—regular activity helps to retain their health.
- Easy exercising can decrease aches and pains.
5 Easy Feel Fit Exercises for Seniors
When your parent decides to begin an exercise program, it’s wise to check in with her doctor. She’ll learn about any cautions related to her health, and the doctor will learn she’s engaging in self-care. Now it’s time to plan her easy exercise routine! These exercises promote strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Each improves with gradual week-by-week increases.
That’s right—breathing is exercise! It is a key to healthy exercise because using your breath, not holding it, benefits your blood pressure. Breathwork aids circulation and activates your chest, upper back, and abdominal muscles. To practice focused breathing:
- Sit nice and straight in a well-supported position.
- Inhale, preferably through your nose.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth.
- Repeat the cycle and practice this a few times each day.
- Begin your easy exercises by focusing first on your breath.
Stretching gently awakens circulation and uses muscles. Sample stretches are available in magazines, videos, and online. Select those intended for elders or people with low activity levels. Stretching can be done while standing or seated, and while watching TV or listening to music. Encourage your parent to stretch:
- Neck, shoulders, arms, and hands
- Chest, back, and abdomen
- Hips, buttocks, legs, and feet
Tai Chi and Yoga
These ancient forms of movement combine strength training with stretching moves. Moving and lifting limbs uses muscles while promoting balance. Both are offered online and in community settings. Either can be done in a small space and with little or no equipment.
This is especially effective when one goes outside, walking inclines, hills, and natural terrain. Your mother’s reality may mean walking to the kitchen, bedroom, or bath. She does so for a purpose. Now encourage her to walk from room to room for the sole purpose of moving! It can be done quietly, while talking on the phone, or listening to music—walker’s choice!
Walking actions can even occur while seated or standing in place—legs go up and down, and arms swing! You and other caregivers can remind your mom to walk every hour. Keeping a cane or walker handy may add to her security.
Resistance exercises build strength and can be done at home with little equipment. Your parent’s primary piece of equipment is her or his body! Other options include water bottles, resistance bands, and rubber/tennis balls. These are used to increase strength in hands, arms, back, abdomen, and legs as one does certain routines. Guidelines for resistance training are available at local recreation centers and online.
Need Help Keeping a Senior Loved One Active?
Senior1Care of Elkhart services include companion services that encourage seniors to perform exercises at home, and by participating in community activities. We will consult with you, describing how our services are individualized for your parent’s interests and needs.