We all know that are maintaining an active lifestyle can keep you feeling and looking your best, no matter what your age. However, maintain an active lifestyle is particular important as we age, we can use regular exercise to prevent heart and other metabolic conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol as well as reducing pain from arthritis. Even more important, as we age and our falls risk increases, we can improve our balance through exercise as well as strengthen our bones, both of which protect us from fractures – which can be devastating as we get older. This week’s blog is part one of our two-part series on what the best exercises are for older adults. Just remember, we advise you check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
1. Include Aerobic Activity
Aerobic exercise has a wide range of benefits, from reducing blood pressure and high cholesterol, improving joint mobility and overall energy levels. It is important that you start with a very low intensity and work your way up from there. Additionally, consulting your GP about what intensity you should be working at is imperative before you begin. Beginning with a low-intensity, 5-minute walk which slightly raises your heart rate is a good place to start. Working towards completing a 30-minute workout 3 – 4 times per week would be a good goal.
2. Increase Your Leg Muscles With Squats
Like at any age, the process of building muscles takes time, but the benefits for seniors are just as pronounced. Leg strength in particular is vital in older adults, as it helps to maintain your functionality capacity as well as reducing your risk of falls. You can begin with 10 squats, done 3 times from a high-chair. You can choose to complete these in one go, or break them up throughout the day.
3. Wave Goodbye To The ‘Tuck-shop Lady Arms’
Training your upper body is just as important as training your lower body. By including resistance, via elastic bands or small dumbbells, begin by holding light weights at shoulder height with palms facing forward, then lift the weights slowly above your head. If you have shoulder pain with this exercise, then decrease the range of motion you work through. Aim for two sets of at least 10 reps for each of these three exercises.
4. Build Those Biceps
As we age, we struggle with functional tasks, including lifting everyday objects like shopping bags or suitcases. Using an arm curl exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain your functional capacity. Begin either seated or standing, hold hand weights down at your sides with palms facing up and elbows tucked in, then bend your elbows and lift the weights toward your chest. Hold each repetition for about 1 second, then slowly lower the arms; do a set of 10 reps, rest, and repeat another 3 sets.
Before you get worried, don’t be concerned, I am not talking about traditional push-ups as I know how difficult they can be to complete correctly. But push-ups are one of the best exercises for overall upper body strength, so I advise my clients to modify this exercise by doing wall push-ups. Face a blank wall while standing about arm’s length away, lean forward, and press your palms flat against the wall. Bend your arms and slowly bring your upper body toward the wall, hold for a moment, and push yourself back until your arms are straight again. Do a set of 10 reps, rest, and repeat another 2 sets.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog for my next top five exercises in this series and if you have any questions about what exercises are the best for you – contact me at the clinic.
Yours in health