An active lifestyle is an important part of staying healthy, no matter what age you are. Physical activity and regular exercise have many long-term health benefits for seniors, including improving health for some people who already have diseases and disabilities. Exercise is also good for brain health.
With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why staying active is so important. But as our bodies age, it can be difficult to keep up with exercise the way we used to, let alone start a new routine.
Whether you’re trying to stay active or looking to start, here are a few exercises you can do today. As always, talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Grab a sturdy chair. Stand behind the chair with your legs slightly apart. Hold on to the chair for balance. Take a deep breath in. When you exhale, bend your right knee slightly and extend your left leg out to the side. As you extend your leg, keep your back straight and your toes pointing forward. Hold for one second. Inhale as you slowly lower your left leg. Repeat the motion 10-15 times before switching to the other leg.
For this exercise, you’ll need two dumbbells (be sure to use a weight you feel comfortable lifting). If you do not feel comfortable performing this exercise while standing, you can also do it in an armless chair. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet flat with your toes facing forward. Hold each dumbbell with your arms relaxed straight down at your waist—palms facing your body.
Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, lift your arms straight out to your sides until they are at shoulder height. Keep your arms up and extended for one second. Take a deep breath in as you slowly let your arms fall back to your sides, then exhale. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.
For this exercise, you can either stand or sit in a chair. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet flat with your toes facing forward. Slowly rotate your head to the right until you begin to feel a slight stretch in your neck. Keep your chin straight and try not to let it dip. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Then rotate your neck to the left and hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat the exercise on both the right and left a total of 3-5 times.
That’s right. Take a moment from your day, turn up the stereo and jitterbug, twist, shuffle, waltz or hand jive. Dancing is a great way to get your blood flowing, stretch your whole body and relieve mental stress. So put on your favorite record, get on your feet and cut a rug.
This is a small sampling of the exercises you can begin today. If you’re looking for more exercises to try, the National Institute of Health offers a wide array of simple and effective exercise advice and guidance. Before trying any exercises, be sure to review them with your doctor.
If you’ve been inactive for a long time, getting started may be the most difficult part. Start with a small goal, like one exercise at the same time every day, until it becomes a habit. You don’t have to move mountains to see results. Even something as simple as a walk through the garden or to the corner store and back can bring a refreshing sense of activity to your daily routine.
The important thing to remember is to practice an active lifestyle every day. Set a routine that works for you and start on a path to feeling like your best self.