As you grow older, an active life is more important than ever. Even as the world tells you it's time to retire, relax, and take it easy, your body is craving for you to keep moving. And though you may be ready to retire from your 9-to-5, don’t hang up your walking shoes quite yet. The truth is that if you really want to enjoy these golden years and get more quality time from them, your best strategy is to exercise regularly.
Upper Body Strength Training Strength training shoulder exercises for seniors and the elderly can have a significant and lasting effect on your independence as we age. When we build up our arm, upper back, and shoulder strength, we improve the ability to reach overhead to that high cupboard, lift our grandchildren up to our chest, … Continue reading 12 Best Shoulder Exercises For Seniors And The Elderly
Leg Exercises As a Physical therapist I tell my patients that leg exercises are one of the most important things you can do to maintain your independence as you age. Strengthening our legs not only helps us stand from a chair, climb steps, lift our feet when going over a threshold, or side stepping around … Continue reading 12 Best Leg Exercises For Seniors And The Elderly
Dr. Edward W. Gregg of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his colleagues at medical centers throughout the United States studied the women for an average of 7.6 years and found that higher levels of leisure time, sport activity, and heavy household chores and fewer hours of sitting daily were associated with a significantly reduced risk of broken (fractured) hip bones.
Building muscle mass and focusing on better balance can help reduce the risk of falls and broken bones. A good balance exercise for older adults is the chair stand: Start in a seated position in an armless chair. Keeping your back and shoulders straight, extend your arms parallel to the ground and slowly stand up, without using your hands. Sit down and repeat the move 10 to 15 times, rest, and then complete another set of 10 to 15 reps. You can further improve your balance with the toe stand: Stand behind the chair — use it only for support — and slowly raise up on your tiptoes. After holding the position for a moment, slowly lower your heels back to the floor; repeat two sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Staying active can keep you feeling and looking your best — at every stage of your life. An active lifestyle is especially important for senior health because regular exercise can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer, and it can also reduce pain associated with arthritis. By improving balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength, older adults can stay healthier longer. The National Institute on Aging is a great resource for learning more about the exercise benefits for seniors. Just remember to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
Yes, some seniors can be frail and have low energy reserves but most of us will respond well to moderate sessions of weight training. Numerous studies have shown that strength training for seniors and other exercises for seniors done regularly not only builds up bone and muscle but counteracts the weakness and frailty that usually comes with aging.
For balance exercise: Do some or all of these exercises every day for best results. Have someone standing nearby to support you if you are concerned you might fall, especially for the ones where I suggest closing your eyes, since this is the most challenging. Speak with your doctor before doing these exercises if you have a balance disturbance or are concerned about whether it is safe for you to do them.
Everyone is different, and everyone’s health can change over the years—or even very quickly, such as after an injury or a medical event like a heart attack. Your doctor will be the best person to guide you on how to exercise safely, based on your medical history and current health. Need to find a new doctor or physical therapist? Look for one who specializes in older adult health and any conditions you may have.
There's good news that should serve as an encouragement to all of us when it comes to fitness, walking endurance, and health. In a classic study of walking and mortality in 700 men enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program, the mortality rate among the men who walked less than one mile per day was nearly twice the rate of those who walked more than two miles per day. (Studies of women showed similar results). In another study, data collected on more than 41,000 men and women from 1990 to 2001 were analyzed to find the relationship between walking and mortality. It was reported that men and women who walked 30 minutes or more per day during the study period had fewer deaths than those who walked less than 30 minutes. Interestingly, even men and women who smoked or were overweight were protected from early death if they walked more than 30 minutes per day.
Research suggests that as many as 14% of males and 18% of females over age 55 are depressed. It has been documented, in younger adults, that exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression and even compete with the effects of antidepressant medication or psychotherapy in terms of effectiveness. Unfortunately, there is very little research on the effects of exercise on depression in older adults. What is fair to say is that exercise has a mood-elevating effect in most adults, whatever their age, even if it's not the cure for depression in the elderly. Talk to most anyone who exercises, no matter what their age, and they will report what used to be called a "feel-good" phenomenon after exercise. Whether it's from getting the heart beating or the blood pumping, from invigorating brain cells, or simply getting out in the fresh air, a good dose of exercise typically improves mood, and so is recommended for virtually everyone.
Importantly, strength isn't just a function of mass. It's also a function of something called "neurological patterning." In layman's terms, patterning is when the brain sends electrical signals via the nervous system to muscles to make them contract. For example, when you think about walking down the street, bending over to pick something up, or any other movement for that matter, the brain first processes the thought and figures out what muscles are needed to make the move and then sends the signal over the nerves to the particular muscles that are necessary for the movement. The muscles move (and so do you) once the signal reaches them. (See "How muscles work" for more detail.)