Exercise is really important once you reach your golden years.
Not only does exercise keep the heart and muscles strong, but it can also slow or prevent the onset of both physical and mental health conditions. Unfortunately, not every senior is able to go out for a jog every morning or take part in local dance aerobic classes. What are those with limited mobility to do?
There are options. Even elderly individuals who have stability problems or conditions that prevent a lot of movement typically have some exercises they can do.
To help you find options that are right for you or your loved ones, here are just a few of the types of low-impact exercises that are perfect for seniors with limited mobility.
If you’ve never heard of chair exercises, they provide just what it says on the tin: Exercises you can do from a seated position (i.e., in a chair.)
These are the definitive exercises for those with limited mobility, since even elderly individuals who spend much of their time in a wheelchair can find some chair exercises that they can perform. Best of all, there are multiple types of chair exercises out there so you can match different exercises to different fitness needs.
Small hand weights or ankle weights allow for strength training from a seated position, and using weights that strap into place helps prevent injuries associated with dropping the weights. Leg lifts, knee tucks and even seated dancing are also great ways to get in some extra exercise while seated safely in a chair.
If the senior in question has enough mobility to get up and move around for a bit, some low-impact cardio exercise can provide a great benefit to the body.
As little as 30 minutes of walking during the day can have the following effects:
- Reducing risk of heart disease by 9.3%
- Reducing risk of hypertension by 7.2%
- Reducing risk of diabetes by 12.3%
- Decreasing overall anger and hostility
- Improving digestion and regularity
- Increasing creativity and mental function
On top of that, if the walk occurs outdoors then the chances of developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are significantly decreased as well.
Best of all, the 30 minutes doesn’t have to occur all at once. If you or your loved one thinks that 30 minutes of walking or doing some other low-impact cardio activity sounds like way too much, the time can be split up into smaller periods throughout the day to make them more manageable.
One popular alternative to low-impact cardio is hitting the pool for aquatic exercise routines.
Many communities have a number of established aquatic classes for seniors and others with reduced mobility, making it easy to find a place to go. Even if there aren’t set classes for aquatic exercise, simply getting into chest-deep water at the pool and walking slow laps does wonders for the body.
The best thing about aquatic exercise is that water provides both buoyancy and resistance. While you’re in the water, the water itself helps hold up your body; this is great for those with limited mobility, since the buoyancy can counteract some of their mobility problems. At the same time, resistance provided by the water makes the muscles work harder so seniors can get a better workout in a shorter period of time.
Don’t Forget to Stretch!
Stiff joints and other flexibility issues are major problems for seniors and often make mobility issues worse.
Stretches, low-impact yoga and other flexibility exercises can often be done from a seated position and help to counteract the effect that time has on the joints. Stretching is a vital component to exercise at any age, but it becomes increasingly important for the elderly as their overall mobility starts to decrease.
Regardless of the type of exercise you choose, stretching should be present at both the beginning of any exercise routine and after the end. Not only will this help prevent injuries, but it may result in an overall increase in flexibility (and possibly even mobility) as well.