Physical fitness provides benefits at any age but the health advantages for more active older adults, seniors and Care Home residents are arguably more pronounced. It can mean more independence for some, can help fight disease, provide more energy, or even reduce the risks of an accident and improve cognitive functions.
But, whilst exercise can therefore be crucial for older adults, it’s not always straightforward and finding comfortable yet effective activities can sometimes be challenging. So, here we give some of our advice on the best exercises for the elderly, as well as some general health tips and activities to avoid.
The basics can be effective
You don’t need to break a sweat to gain the benefits of being physically active. For seniors, in particular, simply moving more each day can be a great way of keeping healthy. Standing up regularly, gentle bed stretches, getting out of a chair unassisted, and more frequent walks are all basic exercise ideas that can help. Chair yoga and water aerobics classes are also great options for simple but effective activities.
If you’re looking for individual exercises, however, we also have the following ideas for you:
This is a great one if you feel a reminder to stand up more frequently is needed. To begin with, stand In Front of a Seat with your feet aligned with your hips, then bend your knees into the seated position whilst keeping your upper body still. Then, push your body back to a standing position.
We recommend repeating this for 2-5 sets of 5-10 reps, with each rep (standing to seating to standing again) taking roughly 6-8 seconds in total.
Wall Snow Angels
A comfortable exercise for opening up your chest and reducing tightness. Stand a couple of inches from a wall and rest your head and lower back against the surface, with your hands at your sides. Then raise your arms as high as is comfortable whilst keeping them against the wall, and repeat 5-10 times. Ideally, 2-3 sets of this is recommended, but you can go for as little or as long as you like!
Perfect for coordination training, heart health, and lower body fitness, all you need to do is take one step up a staircase with your right foot, then go up with your left. Next, step down with your right, and then with your left, and repeat for around a minute. This is a good activity as you can make it easier by holding a railing, or more difficult by using light weights, so care home residents or older adults have flexibility here.
Another effective wall-based exercise. Stand roughly two feet from a wall with your hands against it and directly in front of your shoulders. Then, lean towards the wall by bending your elbows, before straightening your arms again. Repeat for up to a dozen reps and a couple of sets, and it should help strengthen your entire upper body.
Single Foot Stand
A safer alternative to a flamingo stand, this activity is great for improving the balance of older adults. Whilst behind an Unmoveable Chair and holding onto its back, place your left foot on your right foot for as long as is comfortable, and then vice versa. Do this for a few minutes, with breaks if necessary.
Lastly, we wanted to focus on back mobility, and rotations are a great activity for helping the elderly with this. Hold a stick or broom horizontally above and behind your head and, with your knees slightly bent, rotate your body both left and right as far as you can whilst maintaining personal comfort. You can also place your hands your head and do this if you don’t have a stick or broom.
Including both left and right turns, aim for 10-20 reps of this and repeat that for 2-4 times, again taking breaks if you need to.
Exercises to avoid
There are a lot of effective exercises for older adults out there, but it’s also worth keeping in my mind that certain activities may do more harm than good, especially for care home residents. Thus, those in their mid-60s or higher should probably avoid the following:
Squats with weights or leg presses
Endurance exercises (cardio such as long-distance running especially)
Bench press exercises, the power clean, or deadlifts
Listen to your own body and the help of doctors, nurses or carers to know what’s best for you. The key is to help your body perform better rather than cause any injuries.
You may have noticed that some of these exercises require furniture items. Well, that’s where Renray Healthcare can come in! For over 50 years, we’ve been proudly providing Care Home Furniture for the elderly, as well as products for the Healthcare Sector, and so much more. So, if you need any furniture check out Our Brochures, or feel free to Contact Us for more advice!