We all face the temptation to find excuses not to make fitness a priority. We’ve got so many other commitments; who has time to exercise? Perhaps just for today we’ll skip that workout; after all, there’s always tomorrow!
If anyone has a legitimate excuse to forego a regular exercise regimen, however, it’s seniors with limited mobility. Who can begrudge an older adult who’s lived a full and active life the opportunity to slack off now and lead a life of leisure, particularly when the difficulties of aging interfere with the ability to exercise?
The reality, though, is that even the elderly can benefit tremendously from maintaining an exercise routine that is appropriate for their fitness and mobility levels. Studies have shown that staying fit helps decrease feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and improves a senior’s overall outlook on life.
The challenge comes in determining what exercises can be safely done by seniors, especially those with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, or other chronic illnesses or disabilities. Of course, it’s imperative to work with the senior’s physician to create a fitness plan. With the doctor’s approval, some of the following activities can help seniors get moving and improve health and wellbeing:
- Strength training: Utilize traditional weights, or common household objects such as ordinary cans of soup, to build up endurance and strength. Strive for two or three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions of bicep and tricep exercises, shoulder presses and rotations, and arm and leg extensions.
- Flexibility: Stretching exercises can be performed in just about any position, including seated and supine. Modified yoga and tai chi options can be used for those confined to a wheelchair or while lying down. Group classes at a local senior center or YMCA are also a great option for enhancing socialization.
- Cardio: Raising heart rate when mobility is limited can be a challenge, but there are a variety of repetitive exercises that, when performed rapidly, will provide aerobic benefits. Try using resistance bands wrapped underneath a chair and working through 20 to 30 reps of chest presses, look into water aerobic classes and other wheelchair-friendly equipment at a gym, or even seek out an organization that offers adapted wheelchair sports.
As with any exercise regimen, it’s also important to warm up before beginning and cool down afterwards, and again, always get the permission of a doctor who knows your medical history before beginning a new exercise program. These suggestions can help determine how to safely accomplish that to avoid injury.
Nightingale Homecare loves helping seniors stay active, and our professional Phoenix senior care staff are here to serve as cheerleaders to encourage your senior loved ones, and to participate in exercising with them at whatever level the doctor determines is appropriate. Contact us at 602-504-1555 to learn more!