Exercise for Older Adults

A Personal Reflection on Exercise for Older Adults

December 12, 2018

One of the common sights that I have on a city park near our house is a group of older adults doing zumba and some brisk walking together. It makes me wonder, how can they manage to regularly exercise even with their weakening physical conditions, when us who are in our prime age can’t even make time to stretch. So, to answer my curiosity, I had a sit-down with one of the seniors while doing her daily walking routine. From our own conversation, I realized that being in the older years does not mean that we have to give up on exercising. According to her, having physical activities on a regular basis will help us perform tasks better and have an improved life quality during the senior years.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health released a report stating that from 30% of 45 to 64 old people who are having regular physical workouts, it is expected to decrease to 25% when they reach 65 to 74 years. The report also mentioned that the trend will further go down to 11% when they age 85 and above.

The question now is that why should we encourage exercise for older adults? Is it risky or healthy for them? According to a recent study, being involved in a regular physical activity is important to seniors for several reasons. One, falls are very common among senior citizens. They are usually brought to the hospital due to falls and slips and these could be prevented by doing physical workouts as these are essential to boost their strength and enhance their balance. Two, regular exercise for older adults will help them better manage their moods and emotions. Three, being physically active is crucial to alleviate the development of serious diseases like depression, osteoporosis, heart illness and diabetes. Above all, engaging in any form of exercise helps decrease their risk of having cancer.

As a form of guidance to older adults who are interested in being involved in some sort of physical activity, it is important to first consult with their doctor to know which activities suit them. We should all know that not all workouts or activities can be accommodated by our weakening body. So we should just perform those that our body can manage. Just to be on the safe side, here are some exercises for older adults that are surely safe to do.

Simple Exercise for Older Adults

Single Limb Exercise

For starters, a simple balance exercise will suffice to get you off the couch. The single limb stance can be easily done by anyone at the comfort of their own home. The steps in performing this exercise are below.

  1. Ready a solid chair and place it in front of you.
  2. Stand straight and hold steadily on the chair’s back.
  3. While holding onto the chair, raise your left foot and hold the position for 16 counts.
  4. Switch foot. Raise your right foot and hold the position for another 16 counts.
  5. Do this regularly until you are able to perform the exercise without holding onto the chair.

Boat Rock

Another simple exercise that you can try at home is the Boat Rock routine. The main objective of this exercise is to be able to improve your balance and strength. Exercise steps are detailed here.

  1. Stand firm and ensure that your feet are apart.
  2. Check the width of the space in between your legs. It should be the same as your hips’ width.
  3. Look front and level your head.
  4. Carefully, lift your left leg and hold the position for half a minute at the most.
  5. Slowly return to your initial position and have your weight transferred to the left food.
  6. Lift your right leg and hold the position also for half a minute at the most and return to initial position.
  7. Repeat the exercise for five times.

Heel to Toe Walking

A good exercise for older adults who are having trouble with their balance is the heel to toe walking routine. The routine is designed to help senior citizens easily walk without the risk of slipping or worse, falling, as it effectively strengthens our legs. Steps are as follow.

  1. Stand firm with your left foot in front of your right foot.
  2. Ensure that the right foot toes touch the left foot heel.
  3. Carefully lift your right foot and make a step in front of the left foot.
  4. While doing the fourth step, the body weight should be focused on the right foot’s heel.
  5. Slowly, have the body weight shifted to the same foot toes.
  6. Repeat the exercise with the other foot.
  7. Make 20 steps for completion.

Side Leg Stance

Similar to the first exercise, single leg routine, the side leg stance needs you to have a solid chair ready to effectively perform. Same as the others’ goal, this routine will surely help older adults work on their balance and prevent possible falls. Details of the exercise are here.

  1. Ready a solid chair and place it in front of you.
  2. Stand straight and hold steadily on the chair’s back.
  3. While holding onto the chair, raise your left foot and lift to the side. Hold the position for 16 counts.
  4. Switch feet. Raise your right foot and lift to the side. Hold the position for another 16 counts.
  5. Repeat the routine for 15 times at the most.
  6. Do this regularly until you are able to perform the exercise without holding onto the chair.

In Place Marching

A fun and easy to do exercise for seniors, In Place Marching is a very common routine to strengthen your motor skills. If you are not strong enough to perform this, you can try marching while holding onto a strong table or kitchen counter in front of you.

  1. Stand straight and raise your left knee as high as possible.
  2. Slowly lower it then repeat the first and second step with your right knee,
  3. Repeat the moves for 20 times at the most.