9 Best Exercises for Senior Citizens – An Easy Guide to a Better Fitness

Old man exercising
Old man exercising – best exercises for senior citizens

Are you stressed over your increased weight and the impacts it’s having on your health? Are you tired of sitting in front of the television all day thinking about the celebrities your age having fitness routines? Is your body getting rigid and lethargic by sitting and sleeping all day? If yes, then keep reading forward, we have just the right solutions for you!

No matter what your age is, a good exercise is always beneficial for you. It doesn’t matter how light or intense the work-out session is. At least some amount of physical movement is better than none at all.

But even though this habit has its set of pros, it is also important to be able to determine the exercises you should be doing with your comparatively delicate body. We have enlisted some of the best-suited exercises for senior citizens. This will not only motivate you towards the road of fitness but also relieve frequent body aches.

Why is Exercise Important for Senior Citizens?

Your body is built to move. By providing it with less or no physical activities you are actually giving the impression to your brain that it isn’t of any use anymore. As a result, it tends to shut down slowly, making it harder for you to perform simple tasks.

You must be thinking that these are supposed to be the days when you finally rest instead of working out daily. But it’s also important to remember that this is supposed to be an occasional period of rest, not a complete retirement physically as well as mentally.

Exercise is important for people at all ages so old-age isn’t an excuse to get past it. Working out is especially important in your elderly years to maintain good health. Apart from keeping you fit and managing your weight it also boosts your self-esteem. It helps you be more productive, feel happier, minimize the risk of illness and add a few more years to your longevity.

What Keeps You from Exercising and how to get over it?

Most of the older people believe that exercising at this age is useless and that it’ll only increase your body pain. While for others, it ends the day it started because of the lack of motivation and knowledge of how to begin with. And some are simply too lazy to get off their bed, taking long hours of nap that just intensifies their muscular pain.

  • To start with, the myth about exercises being useless for seniors isn’t correct. Instead, it helps you to have a good figure, control your health, makes you feel young and energetic, etc. It also minimizes the risk of a variety of diseases such as low blood pressure, dementia, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
  • For those who lack the motivation and knowledge, it’s really easy to get going if you truly want to. For beginners, exercise can be anything from lifting water bottles to take a small walk. Once you get a habit of this or start to get bored, you can take up yoga classes, join a gym and even search up for online blogs & videos for the appropriate exercises. In that case dear reader, congratulations, you have already taken the first step towards fitness by searching your queries online! Don’t let it go to waste now!
  • The ones who are experts of procrastination, enjoying their free time by sitting idle in front of the TV all day are actually slow-poisoning their health. You may think you’re just providing your body with ample rest but in reality, you’re putting it under lots of monotonous pressure, especially your spine. This may later lead to spine-related complications making it hard for you to walk, sit or stand straight. It will also cause a huge amount of discomfort. To avoid this, give every part of your body the exercise it needs and enjoy your free time as well as comfortable sleep at the end of the day.

Best Exercises for Senior Citizens

Among all the different types of exercises, the ones for older adults have been categorised into 3 types – Balance, Stretch and Strength. We have listed the most effective exercises that fall under each of these categories.

Balance

1. Heel Lift: Stand straight holding a chair. Lift your heels up as high as you can. Stand still on your toes and try not to lose balance. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Stand back on your heels and breathe. Repeat this 10 – 15 times. You can also try it with one hand, one finger or no hands at all.

2. Heel-Toe Walk: Walk placing your heel of one foot right in front of the toe of other. Just as if you’re walking on a rope. Hold out your hands for a better balance. Keep walking as far as you can, then turn around and walk back to your starting point. Repeat this for about 10 – 12 minutes.

3. Shifting Weight: Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both of your feet. Shift your weight to your left leg and then raise your right leg a few inches off the floor. Hold still for 5 seconds and then come back to starting position. Now do the same with your left leg. You can use the help of a chair for better balance. Repeat this process 5 times.

Stretch

4. Shoulder Stretch: Stand straight with feet hip-width apart. Raise your right arm up towards the sky. Bend it behind your head, towards the ground at your elbow. Now stretch your left arm down towards the ground. Bend it behind your back, towards the sky at your elbow. Bring both the arms closer, clasping if possible. Breathe in and out. Repeat this process with opposite arms. Do this 5 times.

5. Upper Body Stretch: Stand straight facing the corner of a wall. Raise your arms with hands flat against the walls and elbows at shoulder height. Step a few inches away from the wall. Now lean your upper body towards the corner without bending your waist or knees. Look straight as well as keep your posture straight. Raise your heels as much as you can while pushing the walls with your arms. Hold this position about 20 seconds or more. Repeat this 10 times.

6. Knee Lifts: Sit straight on a chair with your arms resting on your sides. Lift your left knee along with your thigh about 2 – 3 inches off the seat. Hold this position for 3 seconds and release. Do the same with your right knee. Repeat this for 10 – 12 times.

Strength

7. Side Leg Raise: Stand straight while holding on to a chair for support. Lift your right leg to your knee-length and hold for 3 seconds. Slowly lower the leg and repeat it thrice. Now switch to your left leg and do the same. This makes a set of one. Repeat each set 5 times.

8. Overhead Press: Keep your upper arms close to your sides, elbows bent and forearms perpendicular to the floor. Make your palms face forward while keeping the weights at shoulder length. Now pressing the weights upwards, raise your arms slowly over your head and hold for 5 seconds. Bring them down to starting position. Repeat the process 10 times.

9. Sit Up: Lay down straight on a mat with your knees folded. Keep your arms folded and fingers clasped behind your head. Now slowly try to raise your upper body by putting pressure on your stomach. You don’t have to touch your knees with your head, just raise your body as much as you can. Repeat this 5 – 10 times. Remember not to put pressure behind your head as it may lead to neck pain.

It’s important to take rests between each exercise and hydrate your body. When you get comfortable with your current routine, you can increase the repetitions and add modifications as per your choice. Exercises aren’t supposed to hurt or make you feel dizzy. If in case it happens, stop immediately and call your doctor.

How to Stay Motivated?

Even after you successfully worked out for a few days, tough times are bound to follow. They may appear as muscle cramp, minor injury, changes in routine or just the lack of motivation to get your body moving. These reasons can discourage you in no time and it’s only natural. You just have to be persistent enough to not give up because of them. Here are some common ways to make sure you keep yourself motivated through it all:

  • Remember why you started: The above passages must have given you plenty of reasons to start doing exercises. It can be for improving your health, for having positive self-esteem, for having a good sleeping schedule, etc. Keep reminding yourself of these reasons when you start getting demotivated.
  • Try group work-outs / Make it a friend meet up: Having people work-out with you can be a great advantage. They hype you up as well as advice you to regularly do your best. Teamwork can be itself a great motivation. When you meet up with your friends for working out, you are more likely to be excited than to complain about your routine. It will also make your group more productive.
  • Schedule a regular exercise time: By scheduling a routine before-hand, you can stay prepared and disciplined for your exercise. Preferably, set a time as early in the morning as you can, before 9 am. It is the best time to nurture your body with exercise. Follow the schedule strictly instead of procrastinating it. It might be difficult at the beginning but eventually, you will fall in the track.
  • Regularly write down your work-out experience including the days you skipped: Writing down your daily activities is a great way of monitoring your achievements. Write down your experience, feelings, thoughts and ideas after every workout routine including the days you missed. Set up goals for yourself and try to stay committed to them. When you look back at your past self through these logs, you will realise how far you’ve come along and feel encouraged.
  • Reward yourself: After you successfully complete a workout session or are able to encourage yourself enough to start with some basics, reward yourself. You can go for a walk in the park, enjoy your favourite book or movie, have your warm cup of tea or even take a short nap. Avoid doing these activities unless you are done with your daily exercise. This will encourage you to follow a healthy routine as well as satisfy you.

How to Take Safety Measures?

Before starting your journey to the road of fitness it is important that you plan your safety. You have to understand what is good for your body and what isn’t. Exercises that are easy for some can be challenging for others so don’t trust them blindly. Here are some ways you can assure your safety before the workout:

  • Listen to your body more than your mind: Always start with light warm-up exercises. Do what your body is comfortable doing. Do not force yourself to go beyond your limits as it will only increase your discomfort resulting in severe pain. Go slow but steady.
  • Get a medical approval: It’s a smart move to take medical advice and approval before starting an activity you’re not really used to. It is important to be aware of any critical condition and take guidance before you take off on a new journey.
  • Keep your medical conditions in mind: Medical conditions play a big role in your daily routine, especially during exercise. For example, heart patients need to do easy work out so that they don’t put much pressure on themselves. Diabetic patients may need to take breaks often to take their medication and meals. If exercising starts to hurt or drain you too much take a break and call your doctor.
  • Keep drinking water: The water from your body gets out in the form of sweat along with many amino acids. To compensate for this loss you need to take small sips of water every now then to keep your body hydrated, especially during hot weather. If you don’t, then the lack of water in your muscles will cause painful cramps making your experience uncomfortable.
  • Take short breaks: Take breaks of 5-10 minutes between each work-out set. This will allow your muscles to rest as well as work more effectively for the next set. It also minimises the risk of any injury by 80%. 

Bottom Line

Exercise can be fun if your outlook towards it is positive. In case it’s not, it’s a good opportunity for you to work on it. Once you fall into a daily workout routine, you’ll eventually see the mental and physical benefits it’s having on you. Encourage yourself to get up and nurture your body every day. But make sure not to force yourself too much if it’s taking a toll on you.

We hope our blog gave you plenty of reasons and bits of advice to start working out from tomorrow itself! Have any queries? Leave your comment below. Share your own workout routine and reasons behind staying motivated. We would love to hear from you!

Contact author: @aparajitaa.b

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