Stay Active While Aging
by Mahala Church
Exercise as a mantra for health has been around as long as Jack LaLanne, but as baby boomers move into senior citizen-hood, it is in the forefront. Whether living at home or in a senior living facility, fitness makes seniors’ lives healthier and happier. (Check with your doctor for advice on any exercise limitations and recommendations before starting.)
Aging adults understand the relationship between exercise and independence and focus on bone and muscle strength, which reduces accidents. Fancy equipment and sexy spandex aren’t required to improve quality of life. Exercising at home is a good place to start.
Regaining balance opens the door to freedom. Modify these exercises for the bed, chair, or floor as needed.
- Knees bent, feet flat on the wall, do gentle sit-ups. Pull from the abdomen, not the neck.
- Leg lifts forward, back, and sideways. If standing, keep one hand on a sturdy piece of furniture for balance.
- Arm lifts over your head (snow angel).
- Gentle neck rolls. Neck flexibility is important for driving, e.g. backing out of a parking space.
- Hands out to your sides, roll arms forward then backward in circles.
- Stand on a step on your toes. Hold onto the door frame or wall on each side. Your heels should be hanging off. Push up on your toes.
- Walk around the block or the mall. If walking past the house next door or past two stores is all you can manage, go for it; every few days add another house or store. Arthritis in the knee improves when balance improves.
Gaining strength reduces arthritic pain, builds new bone against osteoporosis, reduces obesity, and creates overall well being. Check out Jane Fonda’s new DVD with light exercises for seniors.
- Hold an unopened soup can in each hand. Do elbow bends and arm raises. If full is too heavy, empty it. Soon you’ll lift five pounds of sugar instead of wearing it.
- Leg and arm strength will have you walking up and down stairs without a struggle.
- Tai Chi is great for strength and balance. Tai Chi DVDs for seniors are available on the internet, at libraries, and in video stores. Look for senior Tai Chi classes at rec and senior centers.
- Get comfortable with strength and balance before attempting aerobic exercises. A big plus of strength training first is that you will progress faster and reap the benefits sooner in your aerobic exercises.
- Everyone loses muscle in aging, but strength training slows it down measurably.
Don’t quit reading! Aging adults who regularly exercise improve in every way –socially, mentally, and emotionally.
- A 45 minute walk three times a week improves concentration, memory, and cognitive skills.
- If your hips can’t walk, check out seated elliptical machines in gyms and senior centers.
- Look for senior groups that dance, walk, hike, swim, or exercise to add some social networking to your new plan.
Ready to get into an exercise routine to stay healthy and fit? Many assisted living communities have fitness centers, exercise classes and other physical activities to keep residents active.
Call your local Care Advisor at(866) 662-0435to find the senior living community that is best for you and offers the exercise amenities that you desire!
Mahala Church is an editor and writer with extensive experience in healthcare management and nursing. Specializing in oncology nursing, she is a strong patient advocate. Her writing couples her degrees in liberal arts and nursing with her experience in business and healthcare to foster support for patient and family education.