Seniors should aim for functional strength and flexibility. You won’t see many seniors trying to bench press 200 pounds or squat 300 pounds of weight. And I’m pretty sure there are quite a few that could achieve these feats.
The reason seniors need to work on functional exercises is because atrophy and flexibility loss occurs in a lot of people. Bad knees, shoulders and joints may also cause the inability to perform some exercises.
The right exercises and stretching will help a senior enhance their mobility.
Yoga for Seniors
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise a person can engage in no matter the age. The great thing about yoga is that a person can gain and maintain muscle, and yoga helps you maintain and gain flexibility, too. However, don’t jump into a high-tempo yoga class with a bunch of 20-year-olds and expect to keep up.
Try a yoga for seniors groups in your area – there will be quite a few. Yoga is great for increasing strength and will keep you away from needing to use a walking aid, such as a rollator, for much longer.
Stretching for seniors is also very important. The beauty of yoga is that it provides stretching as well as muscle gain. A few of the other many benefits that yoga offers are:
- Arthritis pain relief
- Muscle and strength gain
- Decrease in fasting blood sugar levels
- Mood elevation
- Increased flexibility
- Pain relief
So, what are you waiting for? Join a group in your area today.
Stretching Exercises for Elderly People
Seniors need a little more attention when it comes to the way that they exercise. Excess weight or difficult movements can result in injury, leaving you out of commission or confined to a wheelchair for months – not a good thing.
Stretching needs to be done gently and safely.
Added flexibility will also help a person live a more fulfilled life. Some of the difficult things to do when you’re too tight are:
- Reach items on the top shelf
- Bend over and pick up items
- Sit straight
Tight muscles can also lead to pain or injury in some cases. Walking can be more difficult, too. A person with tight hamstrings may have difficulty maintaining a full stride, or a person may not be able to take a large enough step to go down a step comfortably.
Easy stretching exercises for seniors that are recommended are:
- Neck Stretch: Stretch the neck to both sides, forward and backward, holding each stretch for 30 seconds at a time.
- Shoulder Stretch: Shoulder stretches can be done in a variety of ways. Place your elbows on a counter, step backward and bend forward to stretch the shoulders. You can also grasp the top of a door or walk your fingers up the wall leaning forward to further stretch the shoulders.
- Ankle Stretch: The ankles may get tight, and there are multiple ways to stretch them. Cross your legs and use your hand to stretch the ankle side to side. Then, stand with your palms against the wall (in a pushing motion) and move one leg behind you with the toes of the forward leg against the wall. Bend the front leg until you feel a stretch.
- Back Stretch: Sitting on a chair, twist to one side while grasping the back of the chair to further the stretch as needed.
- Hamstring Stretch: Sitting on a bed, keep your legs straight with your toes up to the ceiling. Bend forward trying to grasp your toes to stretch out the hamstring.
- Groin Stretch: Sitting on a bed or on the floor, place the soles of your feet together to enter the butterfly position. Using your hands, gently push downward to the floor to stretch the groin.
Every workout for seniors must include stretching exercises so that a person can perform other exercises with full range of motion.
You want to follow easy stretching exercises that have a variety of intensities to be able to truly benefit from a stretching program.
Yoga offers a variety of difficulties that allow people with a number of mobility ranges to be able to work their way up to harder stretches. This is why so many physical therapists are recommending that their patients do yoga to stay fit and healthy.
If you feel confident with weight training, you can add this to your routine. Just make sure that you stick to lower weights at first to avoid injury before progressing. When it comes to exercising, the benefits can lead to a happier, longer and mobility-rich lifestyle well into old age.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.