Muscles Matter: Easy Exercises for the Elderly
As we age, our muscles tend to lose elasticity, begin to atrophy, and slowly weaken causing limited mobility. This can make everyday tasks, like reaching to a high shelf or walking up and down stairs, much harder. This is why staying active is so important. However, giving your loved ones a set of P90X tapes probably isn’t the best choice for their age group. How, when most exercise programs are geared toward the young and fit, do you find something that grandma and grandpa can do as well? The following is a list of exercises that are safe for older people to participate in at home or in the gym which can be enjoyable while keeping their muscles going strong.
The easiest thing to do on this list is also one with the most published science regarding its positive effects. Stretching for a short time every day improved muscle elasticity, improving strength and range of motion in aging muscles. Plenty of DVDs and YouTube videos can be found online, and even 3-5 minutes of stretching in the morning can help wake muscles up and keep them working over the years. Many gyms and community centers offer special classes for seniors as well which offer low-intensity full-body workouts to strengthen muscles, increase activity levels, and improve range of motion for seniors who want a group to work out with them.
Perfect for summer, working out in a pool is a great way to help those who suffer from aching joint or arthritis. Using a pool noodle or other flotation device for support, seniors can push water weights and kick their legs without fear or falling or straining themselves too much. The resistance of the water offers a full body workout, but the weightlessness it offers makes these exercises easy on joints which can be a huge cause for concern for many older people. Many gyms offer classes like water aerobics, but these exercises can be done at any local public or private pool. Less active seniors should be sure that there is someone who can help them on duty if need be.
Yoga is an amazing practice which can be beneficial to the body and mind. The stretches are accompanied by a calming atmosphere which can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while contributing to overall bodily health. Most yoga instructors who work with seniors also practice modified poses, so those who aren’t as mobile can use a chair or otherwise change their movements so there is no strain or discomfort on the body. Continued yoga training can make movements easier over time and as they practice the instructed poses, older people will see a drastic improvement in their ability to perform them. For those who do not like the idea of classes, many videos can be purchased online which are designed especially for seniors. They can pop in the DVD at home and practice by themselves.
Tai Chi comes from an ancient Chinese tradition which has been modified in the Western world to be used as a form of exercise which focuses on slow, deliberate movements and deep breathing. Each movement flows into the next so the primary goal is that the body can move together fluidly instead of having jerky, disjointed motions. The focus on breathing is all at once calming and crucial to the proper use of muscles. By breathing deeply during exercise, muscles receive more oxygen which keeps them working at their greatest capacity not only during the practice of Tai Chi, but after as well. Because the cells in muscles store oxygen using the compound myoglobin, Tai Chi can help seniors conserve oxygen in their bodies to be used throughout their daily tasks. Many places offer Tai Chi classes for beginners which can be fun, calming, and great for staying active.
All of these practices can be new and exciting ways to keep the elderly in your lives active and independent. By making an effort to move every day, even for a short time doing low impact movements, muscles that have started to weaken can slowly regain their strength. Older people should make sure to consult with a doctor before starting any type of exercise program to be sure it is a good fit for their individual health, but feel free to take this list along to find out what could work the best!