It’s no secret that exercise is essential for all age groups. Exercise is vital to maintaining good physical and mental health, lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, reducing blood pressure, improving bone strength, and lessening many other health risks that benefit from a good exercise regimen. As you age, staying limber is even more important as bones and muscle mass begin to deteriorate and other health problems appear.
For older adults, exercise is a way to reduce the risk of falling by improving core muscles, abdominal muscles, and overall bone and joint health. At Homestead Village, we’re always looking for new ways to enhance the lives of our residents and make them feel more active and energized. There are many fitness opportunities that we offer, but we also want to help educate you and your loved ones on what exercises may work best for you.
Why Exercise is Important for Older Adults
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in four older people (65+) fall each year, and nearly one in five of those falls cause injuries like broken bones. As you age, it’s important to prepare for changes in your body to hopefully avoid these injuries going forward. So, what is the best exercise for seniors? We’ll walk you through a few low-impact, gentle exercises that will go easier on aging bodies.
To lower your risk of falling and avoiding those associated injuries, it’s important to improve your balance. Keeping you on your feet and improving your core muscles is essential as you get older. Here at Homestead Village, our expert staff will work with you to come up with a routine that is exactly catered to your fitness needs. Here are a few exercises to help get you started:
- Flamingo Stand: You know how a flamingo stands on one leg? This exercise is just like that, but much safer. First, brace yourself near an immovable object such as a couch or a heavy chair. Once you feel secure, pick your left foot up behind you and balance on your right foot for as long as you feel comfortable. Place your foot down and repeat with the other foot. The longer you do this exercise, the more you’ll be able to balance without needing the chair.
- Single Limb Stance: Similar to the flamingo stand, the single limb stance also has you balancing on one foot. Use a chair for support if you need it for this exercise, as well. First, bend your right knee, and raise your foot off the ground. Hold the stance as long as you can before putting your foot down and switching feet. The goal is to be able to hold this stance for up to a minute without using a chair for balance.
- Side Leg Raise: Again using a chair for balance, stand with your feet slightly spread apart. With your toe facing forward, lift your right leg to the side and slowly bring it back down. Repeat 15 times before switching legs.
In addition to these exercises, we also offer an Otago Exercise Program here at Homestead Village. This program focuses on strengthening your core and improving balance to help prevent falls. Ask us for more details about the program if you’re interested.
Strength training doesn’t need to be as intense as it sounds. Simply working your core muscles and increasing muscle mass with a few low-impact exercises will go a long way in helping to improve your overall health. Our indoor fitness center, combined with our beautiful 90-acre Lancaster County campus, helps Homestead Village residents thrive where they are stay fit all year round. But you don’t even need to leave the house to do these simple strength exercises:
- Wall Push-Ups: Don’t worry-you don’t have to get on the ground to do these push-ups! Best for strengthening your arms and abdominal muscles, wall push-ups are started by standing approximately two feet away from a wall while keeping your hands against the wall. Keep your body straight and bend your elbows as you lean in towards the wall. Stop before you hit the wall, slowly straighten your arms, and then repeat.
- Seated Shoulder Press: This exercise doesn’t require you to even stand, but instead has you sitting upright with your feet flat on the ground. With either lightweight dumbbells, water bottles, or a resistance band, raise your arms straight over your head, extending your elbows. Carefully lower your arms again so your elbows are bent and repeat.
- Knee Lifts: Great for strengthening your thighs and legs, knee lifts are also done while sitting. With your arms resting at your side, lift your right leg so that your knee and back of your thigh are off the seat. Hold this for three seconds, slowly lower your leg, repeat approximately 10 times, and then switch legs.
Cardio and Low-Impact Exercises
A lot of older adults face poor circulation issues as they age; this can cause cramping, swollen feet, and aching in extremities. Luckily, cardio and other low-impact exercises are great for getting your heart pumping and blood flowing. Homestead Village has several types of physical therapy that can help with pain management, mobility training, or gait stability. In addition to using our onsite facilities, here are a few recommended exercises to help improve your circulation:
- Step Ups: Find a set of stairs and stand at the bottom of them. Place your right foot on the first stair and then lift your left foot off the ground and hold it there for 10 seconds. Step down with your left foot, followed by your right, and repeat with the opposite foot.
- Tai Chi: Tai Chi is one of the senior fitness classes that we offer at Homestead Village. This exercise focuses on slow, low-impact movements and breathing that will help improve balance and flexibility. It’s a very meditative practice and you don’t need any special equipment to get started.
- Water Aerobics: Swimming is one of the best exercises for aging bodies. The weightlessness in water takes stress off of aching joints, works nearly every one of your core muscles, and also helps you get in a good cardio workout. In addition, you can use the pool as a safe place to do many type of exercises without the fear of falling. The best part? Homestead Village offers aquatics classes and access to our indoor therapy pool.
While exercising may be intimidating or even frightening as you age, keeping up a regular routine is so important to keeping yourself healthy. At Homestead Village, our mission is to enhance independence while still creating a compassionate community for you to live in. We care about your wellness and want to give you every tool that you need to help improve your quality of life. Talk to us today about the services we offer and what we can do for you or your loved ones.