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  • Michelle Varela

Designing a Personal Exercise Program To Do At Home

Exercise is an important part of nearly everyone’s everyday health, including older adults. Experts say seniors should be as active as possible. If you are an older adult, exercise can help you live a longer, healthier life.

There are many benefits of exercising when you’re a senior, including

· It improves your strength. This helps you stay independent.

· It improves your balance. This prevents falls.

· It gives you more energy.

· It prevents or delays diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis.

· It can improve your mood and fight off depression.

· It may improve cognitive function (how your brain works).

One of the main challenges for older adults who want to stay active is limited mobility. Low impact exercises for seniors and regular strength exercises can help improve mobility. You should make sure you engage in activities and exercise routines that are safe for your capabilities. This is especially important if you are exercising on your own. Easing into regular exercise or yoga will help reduce the chances that they will overdo it and help improve their strength and mobility.

There are four types of exercise. If possible, you should try to include all 4 types in your home exercise routine.

Endurance (cardio) — increases your breathing and heart rate. Improves the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Builds energy. Includes:

· Walking

· Dancing

· Swimming

· Biking

· Tennis

· Gardening

Strength — makes your muscles stronger. Includes:

· Lifting weights

· Using a resistance band

· Doing body-weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups)

Balance — helps prevent falls. Includes:

· Standing on one foot

· Walking heel-to-toe

· Tai chi or yoga

Flexibility — stretches your muscles, keeps you limber and more easily able to move. Includes:

· Stretching

· Yoga

How often should you exercise?

Seniors 65 and older should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) every week. That averages out to about 30 minutes on most days of the week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest this amount of time for generally fit Americans aged 65 and older. Even though this sounds like a lot, the good news is that you can break it down into 10- or 15-minute chunks of exercise two or more times a day.

You should also do strength training at least 2 days a week. You can work on balance and flexibility every day.

Designing Your Exercise Program

1. Weight Training

Light weight training can help seniors build muscle mass and retain bone density without putting undue stress on the muscles. Seniors can use 2-pound weights to do exercises like shoulder presses and arm raises. If they don’t have weights, they can use objects around the house like water bottles or cans of food.

2. Cardiovascular Endurance Exercises

Seniors don’t need a gym membership to do aerobic exercises. If they want to follow a routine, they can use an exercise DVD. Many of these DVDs are designed specifically for seniors, like Walk Aerobics for Seniors and Stronger Seniors® Stretch and Strength. Older adults who prefer to exercise on their own can do 5-minute intervals of classic aerobic moves like jumping jacks and knee lifts. Aerobic exercises are crucial for seniors, as they get the heart pumping and promote cardiovascular health.

3. Yoga

As seniors get older, they often lose flexibility in their joints. Yoga is one of the best ways for seniors to stay limber because this form of exercise focuses on balance, strength, and flexibility. Seniors can do classic yoga poses like downward facing dog, seated forward bend, and warrior. Older adults with limited mobility can try chair yoga.

4. Squats When planning an exercise regimen, seniors shouldn’t neglect strength training. Squats are one of the best ways to strengthen the legs, as this exercise works muscles throughout the lower body. To perform this exercise, seniors should start by standing up straight with their toes pointed forward. They should then bend their knees until crouched in a near-seated position, then repeat this exercise to gain muscle mass in the calves and quads. Seniors can hold onto a chair if they need assistance with balancing. It’s important that seniors don’t neglect the lower body, since strong legs can prevent the slips and falls that lead to injuries.

5. Walking

Seniors don’t have to leave the house to go walking. They can strap on their pedometers, turn on some music, and power walk through the house. To make the most of this exercise, seniors should try to pump their arms and lift their knees with each step.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting

Sit-down exercises are a great way to help older adults build their strength and burn calories without placing them at risk for a serious injury. These five exercises can all be performed sitting down, and doing them provides a full-body workout.

1. Arm Raises

Seniors who are new to this exercise can perform it without weights, or they can do it while holding a light set of dumbbells. To perform arm raises, seniors should hold the weights down in the lap and raise them above the head. This movement strengthens the upper back, shoulder, and arm muscles needed to perform many daily tasks.

2. Inner Thigh Squeezes

Seniors can place a rolled-up towel or ball between their knees to perform this exercise. Once the towel or ball is in place, seniors should squeeze their legs together. This exercise strengthens the inner thigh muscles responsible for increasing flexibility and maintaining stability while standing.

3. Abdominal Twists

The core muscles in the abdomen and back play a huge role in the ability to maintain balance. These are also the muscles used to get in and out of bed, sit on the toilet, and bend over to pick up objects from the floor. Seniors simply need to sit up straight in a chair and turn the body from side to side. To increase the intensity of the workout, seniors should hold a medicine ball or free weight as they perform the motion.

4. Knee Lifts

This exercise works the abdominal and leg muscles at the same time, which is perfect for seniors who are trying to regain their strength so they can stand up for longer periods. They can begin by sitting normally in a chair, with the legs bent and feet resting on the floor. Then they should slowly raise one knee at a time toward the chest. Each movement should be done slowly so all of the muscle groups involved are targeted.

5. Leg Extensions

The upper thighs and buttock muscles are also important for the ability to move well throughout the day. Leg extensions begin in the same way as knee lifts. However, seniors then stretch each leg up and out until fully extended, with the toes pointed up toward the ceiling. Seniors should alternate lifting each leg and aim to do about three sets of eight repetitions. However, they should start slowly if that’s too much to do at first. With practice, they will be able to do more in time.

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