5 Powerful Exercises for the Elderly

5 Powerful Exercises for the Elderly

Exercises for the elderly

For adults aged 65 and over, maintaining an exercise program is one of the most important considerations to healthy aging. According to the CDC, a 30-minute exercise program completed 5 days per week can result in:

  • Increased independence
  • Reduced frailty
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced pain
  • Less bone loss
  • Slower cognitive decline

However, research shows that only 10-15% of adults in this age group meet daily exercise recommendations. Some of the main barriers reportedly preventing older adults from exercising include a lack of professional guidance and inadequate distribution of information.

The following exercises for the elderly were chosen to provide an easy to follow, aging-friendly, comprehensive exercise program. These exercises for the elderly maximize benefit through targeting large, multi-joint muscle groups while challenging strength, balance, and endurance in safe, yet effective ways.

Recommended course: Exercise Prescription Management of the Older Adult: An Evidence-Based Approach

Sit To Stand

This exercise strengthens the core and leg muscles, while also improving balance. Start seated in a standard height chair with armrests. Place feet on the ground slightly underneath the chair, make sure the feet are not too far in front of the chair as this will make rising more difficult.

To rise, first bend at the waist to bring the upper body forward. This will shift the body weight off the buttock and onto the feet, making standing easier. Squeeze the glutes and leg muscles to stand fully upright. Return to sitting in a slow and controlled manner. At first, use the hands to push off the armrests, then progress to hands free.

Wall Angels

Wall Angels are an excellent exercise to improve posture, spinal mobility, and shoulder joint range of motion. Start standing with the back flat against a wall. Extend the arms by the side, with palms facing outward. Keeping the back of the hands flush against the wall, lift arms to the side to a “T” shape and continue overhead until the hands touch.

Slowly return down to the starting position with hands by the side. If arms extended is too difficult, start with elbows bent and progress extension over time.

Recommended course: Functional Assessment of the Older Adult

Marching in Place

Marching in place requires balance, weight shifting, strength and mobility. Begin with holding onto a supportive surface, such as a countertop or table, with arms extended. Lift one leg up, with the knee bent, getting as close to a 90-degree angle at the hip as possible. The other leg, the standing leg, is the stabilizer and should be working to prevent side to side swaying.

Slowly lower down the raised leg, and alternate to lift the opposite leg. Start at a pace that is slow and steady, and progress by increasing the speed of this exercise, which can also add an aerobic challenge.

Supported Single Leg Lifts

This is a dynamic standing balance exercise performed in a safe and engaging way. Begin holding onto a supportive surface, with arms extended, feet together. Keeping the knee straight, kick one leg back so the foot is approximately 5 inches off the ground. Return to feet together.

Next, kick the straight leg to the side. Return to feet together. Finally, kick that same leg to the front. Return to feet together. The pattern of this exercise should look like this: kick back, feet together, kick side, feet together, kick forward, feet together. Switch and repeat on the other side. In the beginning hold on with both hands, to progress lift one hand up.

Step and Windmill Stretch

This exercise incorporates a dynamic total body stretch with a functional movement. Begin standing at a supportive surface with arms extended. Kick one foot out in front, placing the heel on the ground and the toes pointed up. At the same time lift the opposite arm up and back like a windmill. Return both back to starting position, then switch sides.

When both parts of this exercise are done at the same time (step leg and windmill arm) the result is an upper and lower body stretch which also challenges balance and coordination.

This article was written by Jami Cooley

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