Senior exercise can be very beneficial. Not only does it improve cardiovascular health but it also improves the immune system and blood pressure. Examples of exercises for the elderly range from breathing and stretching exercises to those that can increase strength and endurance.
The Importance of Exercise for the Elderly
Exercise plays a very important role in the lives of the elderly. Regular exercise provides seniors with many benefits; namely it:
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Provides protection from chronic disease
- Reduces injuries
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves overall mood
- Improves blood pressure
- Improves diabetes
- Improves overall stamina and strength
- Reduces stress levels
- Helps control weight
Examples of Exercises for the Elderly
The type of exercise that is best for an elderly person depends on the individual and their overall medical condition and limitations. In some instances, seniors may be able to build endurance by taking a daily walk; for others, low-impact water aerobics may be the best choice.
The following are the basic categories of exercises:
- Stretching exercises are important and should always be done before any other type of exercise. These types of exercises help prevent injuries from muscle strains and falls. A popular type of stretching exercise is yoga.
- As people age, they may have difficulty with balance, which can cause falls and result in broken bones and fractures. Balance exercises help to strengthen a person's core muscles (stomach, lower back, and sides), as well as leg muscles.
- Endurance exercises are meant to build a person's level of endurance slowly over a period of time. This type of exercise increases your heart rate and breathing rate, and includes activities such as walking, swimming, riding a bike and water aerobics.
- Strengthening exercises are important for increasing the body's metabolism, as well as building overall muscle strength and flexibility. The result of strength exercises is that they allow you to do more on your own, increasing your independence.
Elder Gym: Learning to Exercise Correctly
An excellent resource for exercises for the elderly is Elder Gym. The website provides dozens of free instructional videos for a variety of exercises for seniors, including chair exercises. In addition to the exercises, Elder Gym also provides:
- A section where the elderly or their caregivers can ask a exercise-related questions
- Useful information regarding the different types of exercises and their importance. For example, within the balance exercise section is information on creating a balance program at home, tips to prevent falls, and an explanation on how the body's balance system works.
- A newsletter and a blog
The exercise videos provide easy-to-follow instructions for the following types of exercises:
- Lower body stretching
- Lower body strengthening
- Upper body stretching
- Upper body strengthening
Within each type of exercise area are twelve videos of different exercises. There is also a brief overview of each exercise video explaining how the exercise works on your body, how it will benefit you and complete instructions for performing the exercise correctly.
Using the back exercise section as an example, the following are the exercise videos intended to help strengthen the back:
- Eccentric straight leg raise
- Bent knee raise
- Curl ups
- Cat ands camel
- Back extension
- Leg extension
- Pelvic tilt
- Sit backs
- Arm raises on back
- Arm raises on knees
- Hip flexion
Exercises for Specific Health Conditions
Elder Gym also offers special exercise sections that cover exercises for individuals with specific health conditions including:
- Heart disease
- Pulmonary disease
- Lower back pain
Additional Resources for Exercises for the Elderly
There are many additional websites that provide thorough exercise instruction for senior citizens.
- Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging at Medicine Net
- Exercise for Seniors at Estonaut
- Examples of Senior Chair Exercises at LoveToKnow
Starting an Exercise Program
The examples of exercises for the elderly can easily be adapted to suit many individual and special needs that the elderly may have. Before starting any exercise program, always check with your doctor to make sure the type of exercises you have chosen are right for you.