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Exercises for elders are crucial, but it can be hard to know how and where to begin. If you haven’t been exercising for a while, re-entry would definitely be a challenge. There’s also a good chance the exercises you were once accustomed to when young, are not ideal for older adults. The pandemic has certainly reduced our habit of strolling, laugh clubs, and garden workouts significantly, causing older adults to lose touch with any form of movement.
But it is possible to exercise at home and with restrictions getting eased gradually, one can hope to engage with the virtual communities that helped elders stay active through the lockdown. Do not underestimate the power of cardio movements that help get the blood flowing. It is a great way to get your body moving.
Start with low-intensity exercises that only slightly increase your heart and breathing rate. These exercises are suitable for elders with a range of medical conditions that make exertion particularly difficult or dangerous.
The most standard low-intensity cardio activity is walking. Walking at a slow pace during standard activities, such as shopping, counts toward your weekly goal. If your health and stamina improve, you might consider increasing the pace or length of your walks.
Climb a specific flight of stairs every day, monitor how you feel afterward, and continue at the same pace. Exercising is not a contest. It is important to only do things that your body can accept.
Do freehand stretching without exerting yourself too much. Be careful of any previous strains and pains if there are, and do consult with your physician before you start this.
Recreational swimming is another low-intensity cardio exercise that reduces joint strain, but make sure to prepare your body for this.
More moderate-intensity exercises are generally recommended for healthy older adults. Cycling is a common moderate-impact exercise. The best thing about cycling is you can do it indoors or outdoors. If you have existing problems with balance and reflexes, take it slow to gain the confidence of cycling outdoors. Dancing is also an option that includes swing, jazz, or ballroom styles.
You may not always need to start something new if you already engage in household chores. This kind of activity includes daily chores such as washing, dusting, making the bed, hanging clothes to dry, ironing, tidying up, and cooking.
A recent study published in the BMJ Journal found that light housework helps older adults to have a sharper memory, better leg strength, and greater protection against falls. It goes on to recommend, “Incorporating (physical activity) into the daily lifestyle through domestic duties (ie, housework) has the potential to achieve higher (physical activity), which is positively associated with functional health, especially among older community-dwelling adults.”
Heavy housework was defined as window cleaning, changing the bed, vacuuming, washing the floor, and activities such as painting/decorating.
Chair yoga is a low-impact exercise, and is an accessible form of yoga that provides less stress on muscles, joints, and bones than more conventional forms of yoga. Regular chair yoga practice helps to get better quality sleep, lower instances of depression, and report a general sense of well-being.
Resistance band workouts are user-friendly, and accessible for beginners. This form of exercise is growing more popular among seniors, because of the relatively cheap upfront costs of materials, which makes resistance band workouts ideal for at-home exercise. Additionally, these exercises are ideal for strengthening your core, which improves posture, mobility, and balance.
Pilates is a popular low-impact form of exercise that was developed a century ago. In Pilates, breathing, alignment, concentration and core strength are emphasized, and typically involve mats, Pilates balls, and other inflated accessories to help build strength without the stress of higher-impact exercises. Pilates has been shown to improve balance, develop core strength and increase flexibility in older adults.