Keeping fit is important to a healthy lifestyle, even more so as you age. This is well known to us all but implementing exercise into your day-to-day life can often be easier said than done. Whether it’s lack of motivation, an already full schedule or being unsure of what would suit you best, there’s always reasons not to exercise.
Well, we at Signature have done some of the work for you! Our care homes host their own exercise sessions for our inhabitants, prioritising ease and comfortable sessions that are still effective. With a mind towards older people and to not overwhelming anyone, here are some easy exercises that you can do from home.
1. Sitting Yoga
Let’s start off with some easy ones. Firstly, sit down in a straight backed chair! Now, this may not seem overly active straight off the bat, sitting down, and this is precisely the point. Sitting Yoga is about beginning to establish an exercise routine from a position of comfort. Sat in a chair and doing some movements as alternatively bringing a knee to your chest, raising your arms from your side to straight up and rotating your head from shoulder to shoulder are excellent ways to get loose, get some movement through the joints and ease you into some more advanced movements later down the road.
To ramp these up if you want to, raise your arms from your side to above your head holding a book perhaps. Or raise your knee to your chest then straighten it out in front of you without grounding.
Keeping up your strength in later years should mean more than being well nourished. Keeping your body as strong and flexible as possible benefits you in all other aspects of your life.
Keeping with the chair at the moment, you can do some calf raises by standing behind and holding the back of the chair, gently raising onto the balls of your feet and back down again. This is good for feet and lower leg muscles and is low impact on joints. Another movement is in the same position but swinging a leg from side to side in as far of an arc as possible. This gives great movement to the hips and buttocks and services the top half of the leg.
Press-ups are the bane of active people’s lives and there’s no way you should subject yourself to these later in life. Wall press-ups however, they can be useful! To build on the strength in your upper body, stand around half a metre from a wall with hands up against it. Shoulder width apart and stationed roughly between shoulder and nose height. From there, bend the elbows down and back up again. Easy!
Always remember to never try too hard with any of these. If parts of the body are uncomfortable or in pain then stop and only do as many repetitions as you are comfortable with.
Hands down the most underrated and underappreciated form of exercise. The most instinctual movement we know of as humans, walking does work out most of the body. Through the motion of alternating legs moving and arms swinging, you can exercise the neck and back, upper and lower legs, shoulders and core muscles. You needn’t walk far or fast, only consistently if you can. If it’s possible for you to walk to get the post or newspaper then do so. If there are older person’s walking clubs in your area then join on. Instead of driving to your friend’s or relative’s house, stroll there.
Doing exercises that are based on balance are extremely low stress on the body. Such things as facing the wall with hands up against it, then standing on one leg for a five seconds, crossing your feet over while standing and holding that position as well as heel-to-toe walking around the house all work out your balance and your leg and core muscles. A few repetitions of each a couple of times a day can really improve the stamina of your core in a surprisingly short time.
For more advanced movements, find a two-level step and go from the ground to step one to step two in a slow and methodical way, extenuating the times you are on one leg. Keep an arm out to steady yourself though!
Keeping fit in later life is naturally a challenge, but there are ways of making it easier on your timetable and on your body while still reaping the rewards. The key things to remember though are to make sure you don’t over stretch yourself and to exercise consistently. This way of thinking can be summed up in a simple scenario; It’s better to go on 7 short walks, one per day, than 1 long walk once a week.
Just because you are older doesn’t mean you can’t yield the benefits of exercise. Quite the opposite in fact. The hardest part is the motivation and people struggle with that at all stages of life. The benefits however can far outweigh the negatives. A simple exercise routine that suits you will immeasurably improve your lifestyle, not to mention your overall health. It can decrease your stress, improve your sleep patterns and increase your stamina and durability.
Signature makes sure to keep exercise manageable and a priority for our inhabitants. Gentle group exercise sessions as well as Tai Chi are available in our homes, among others and are deliberately aimed at making sure people stay healthy.
You can make it your own too! Find some exercises that you will enjoy and that won’t be a burden to your day or to your body. Stay within your comfort zone to start with until your are well practised and go from there.
Find out more about Signature’s activity programmes here
By Guy Bezant, Signature Content Contributor