Why Should Seniors Exercise
Of course, everyone knows that exercising improves your quality of life. But as we get older, exercise becomes increasingly necessary. The longer you stay healthy and active, the longer you will be able to retain your independence. Combining aerobic activity and strength training is the best thing you can do to promote your health.
Strength training of the lower body is especially important because your legs are the balance and support system for the rest of the body. Having strong leg muscles is vital when you stand up from a chair and climb stairs. And having good balance in your legs lowers the risk of falls. Falls account for 30 to 40% of injuries in the elderly. They are so common among seniors that an older adult is admitted to the hospital every 11 seconds due to a fall. And, a senior dies every 19 minutes due to a fall. Not only are falls extremely deadly, even a minor one can be debilitating. It can lead you or your loved one into a long downward spiral of degrading health. It is unrealistic that you will be able to completely prevent senior falls. However, regular exercise reduces that risk factor by 23%.
Types Of Exercise For Seniors
James Turgis, physiotherapist and director at Excellence Physiotherapy in London, told Newsweek that mindful and regular exercise will bolster leg strength.
“Older people can definitely regain good leg strength if they do regular strengthening exercises and increase the intensity of their exercises in a slow and safe way. But also exercises must be adapted to their condition to be efficient,” he said.
Everyday, simple activities can help keep leg muscles active and exercised, Turgis added, and can be a good starting point.
“Regular exercise, regular walks and climbing stairs can help, but it is important that they start gradually in order to avoid any injuries from occurring. Bones, muscles and joints are fragile at that age, if you overdo it too quickly, your body might not have time to adapt.”
For those looking for more mindful workout exercises to keep their legs in shape, there are also plenty of achievable exercises.
Andy Reay said: “The key to strengthening the legs is to give them enough of a challenge. The body responds and grows in response to a stimulus or stress, it is therefore a balance of finding a big enough stimulus to challenge the body without overdoing it.”
What Ifi Hate Exercising
We hear this a lot. And, we found the reason a lot of seniors hate exercising is because its too hard and it leaves them too sore.Well, do you know why?Its because they do too much too soon. Leg strengthening exercises for seniors often need to be started very gradually. And, that means very gradually. We’re going to show you how.Just because an exercise can be done 50 times by someone else, doesnt mean you can do it even 5 time comfortably. Yet. And, that’s perfectly OK. For now.So, were going to show you how to start slowly. Make slow but sure progress. And, get that strength that you thought youd never have again.If you hate exercise, heres some great news: Do the one basic exercise for just a few minutes each day, and youll get stronger. So much stronger that you probably wont even believe it could have happened.If youre willing to do 10 – 20 minutes a day, youll be bordering on truly athletic.
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Move : Weighted Goblet Squat
If you don’t have a weight available or just want to master your form before cranking up the intensity, you can do this move without a dumbbell or kettlebell. Clasp your hands in front of your chest.
Strength Exercise : Knee Flexions
Back of the thighs .
Standing up tall, holding onto your chair, with your feet close together.
Bending your leg at the knee, lifting your foot up towards your buttocks, holding briefly and returning your foot back to the ground.
Repeat for the set repetitions and do the same on the opposite leg.
For Video Demonstration of Knee Flexions:
PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using resistance bands, ankle weights.
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What Are The #1leg Strengthening Exercises For Seniors
Well, the news just keeps getting better. There is ONE, yes, just one exercise, that takes only a few minutes each day, that can double your leg strength in a matter of weeks.Bodybuilders and other athletes call this exercise the Squat. And, it looks just like it sounds.We realize that doing even one full squat is impossible for many seniors. Even many younger seniors. That’s quite common.So we have the Half Squat. And, even easier, the Partial Squat supported by a chair.All this exercise requires in the beginning, is you sitting down part way and getting back up again. Over and over again. Maybe only just 3 – 5 times at first. Simple. Right?You don’t have to go all the way down to the chair in the beginning. That’s OK. You may not get that far for weeks. Or, even some months. At first you may only squat a few inches for 3 repetitions. You may think this is nothing. But, if it takes a little effort, it is something great.Something that will get you stronger and stronger.
So, no matter how weak you may feel right now, if you practice day after day, for just a few minutes , you will get stronger.
Benefits Of Having Strong Legs
Aging gracefully does not have to mean the loss of mobility. Seniors can maintain their mobility by taking time for leg strengthening exercises. Here are a few advantages of leg strengthening exercises for seniors:
A strong lower body increases balance reduces the risk of falls, increases mobility, improves overall fitness, and boosts the immune system. Exercise is the best prevention and treatment of lower body and joint pain and arthritis. For seniors, regular exercise can reduce or eliminate the need for insulin and medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
Furthermore, one of the major benefits of having strong legs is that it helps prevent the risk of osteoporosis. Scientific research has shown that strength training in the lower extremities can decrease the risk of osteoporosis by as much as 50% so it is imperative to include a few leg strengthening exercises into your routine if you have been diagnosed with this condition.
Tip: Staying active is the best way to avoid osteoporosis. The healthier you are, the stronger your bones will become. Also, if you are an athlete or involved in some kind of high-impact activity, then you should also be doing leg strengthening exercises.
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Why These Exercise Work
These leg strengthening exercises for seniors are manageable for most as they are risk free, according to Turgis.
“There is virtually no risk for seniors exercising their legs if they don’t have any underlying conditions and start exercising with a physio until they are independent in their exercises.
“There are no leg exercises that seniors should avoid doing as long as the intensity is reasonable and adapted to their condition so they don’t injure themselves.”
However, he stressed the importance of first having a physio assessment before carrying out any of the movements, as underlying conditions or prior operations could limit the type of activities available.
For example, “It is forbidden for someone with a hip replacement to do a leg raise, as that could dislocate their hip. That’s one of the reasons why a physio assessment is necessary,” he advised.
Nonetheless, both experts emphasize the clear benefits of regular, manageable exercise for seniors.
“All the above is really important as it keeps seniors autonomous and independent for the longest time possible, which helps them stay social with others and not damage their mental health which is the key factor for a long life,” Turgis said.
How Many Times Per Week Should You Work Out Your Legs
For someone new to working out I would recommend getting a leg workout in twice per week for the first couple of months.
Once your body has adapted to increased intensity and difficulty with two times per week, if you want to up it to three times per week as that works better for your schedule that is fine, too.
I have many clients who have seen tremendous progress even from just one time per week but progress is much slower than if they were doing at least two times per week.
Think about working out as a skill. The more you do certain movements you get more proficient at it. This is the science of motor learning. Practice a pattern enough times, it gets better, and then goes on autopilot .
Once youve acclimated your legs to workouts, shooting for 10 to 20 challenging sets of leg exercises per muscle group is a good range to shoot for.
An example of this type of workout would be:
- 5 sets of leg press on day 1
- 3 sets of squats on day 2
- 2 sets of lunges on day 1
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Best Strength Training Exercises For Seniors
While some body changes like reduced muscle and bone mass are inevitable the older you get, staying strong and active can delay them to an extent. Incorporating regular resistance training can be accomplished with your bodyweight, free weights and resistance bands.
When it comes to picking the best strength training exercises for seniors, consider activities necessary for daily living. For instance, one of the best indicators of morbidity and mortality is the ability to stand up from a chair without using your hands to help in any way, says Heather Mims, a doctor of physical therapy and certified orthopedic specialist at New York Citys Tula PT & Wellness. This test means not pushing on the arms of your chair or pushing against the tops of your thighs with your hands when standing up. The best way to work on this skill is to practice it, as well as use the following strength exercises:
How To Strengthen Legs For Seniors
Your leg muscles are the largest muscles in your body. The main muscle groups are the quadriceps or quads at the front of your thigh, the hamstrings at the back of your thighs, the calf muscles, and the gluteal muscles or glutes.
The quads are responsible for extending your knee, i.e. straightening your leg. Quad strength is very important for walking, jumping, and running and for your knee health.
The hamstrings are responsible for two functions, extending the hips and knee flexion. They are one of the strongest muscles in your body but unfortunately, they are very underdeveloped in many sedentary people due to too much sitting.
The glutes work in tandem with the hamstrings for hip flexion and are very important for walking, running, and jumping. The calves are responsible for the movement of the ankle and the feet.
To make your legs strong, its important to strengthen all of these muscle groups. All this might seem a bit much and complicated but I promise you its not.
You can strengthen all of these muscle groups with a handful of exercises and it doesnt have to take much effort.
The basic principles of strength training are these: Train Recover Adapt.
A strength training exercise stresses your muscles. After a workout you will eat, rest, and sleep and your body will recover from the workout. Each time your muscles recover a bit stronger, they adapt to the demand.
Lets look at the best exercises for building leg strength.
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Best Aerobic Exercises For Seniors
Older adults should do at least 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, ideally spread out over several days. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity includes brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and nature walks.
Here are some of the best aerobic exercises for seniors:
Exercises And Training Programs
Leg exercisers can be very helpful for these exercises and training programs:Mobility challenges: Using a leg exerciser regularly can help you deal with mobility issues. When the pedals move your feet back and forth, they aid blood circulation.Injury rehabilitation: If you have a leg injury, a leg exerciser can help your recovery by helping you move the injured leg gradually.
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Strength Exercise : Hip Extensions
Buttocks , and back of the thighs .
Placing both hands on your chair and standing up tall.
Keeping your legs straight slowly bring it back behind you and then bring your feet back together.
Repeat for the set number of repetitions and do the same on the opposite leg.
For Video Demonstration of Hip Extensions:
PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using resistance bands, ankle weights.
Sitting Leg Exercises For The Elderly
If youve not done much physical exercise for a while, or struggle with your balance, why not try these brilliantly simple leg strengthening exercises that can be performed from your chair:
Before you start, choose a chair without arms if you can, and make sure it is stable and solid. Your feet should be able to sit flat and securely on the floor, with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
This simple exercise can be a great way to relieve stiffness and strengthen the surrounding tissue of your knee joints.
Step 1: Sit on the edge of your chair, with your hands resting on the seat, feet hip-width apart, and begin to learn forwards very slightly.
Step 2: Before you slowly stand up, keep your eyes forward and plant your feet firmly into the floor.
Step 3: Use your legs to stand upright, before slowly sitting back down.
You can aim for about 5 repetitions here, and the slower you go the better as it will make your legs work harder.
For those who want to improve their hip mobility and cardiovascular strength.
Step 1: Sit tall with your shoulders resting against the back of a chair and your feet hip-width apart.
Step 2: Hold the edges of the chair and tighten your stomach muscles.
Step 3: Lift your left leg as high as you comfortably can whilst keeping your knee bent and your foot flexed. Return your foot back to the floor while lifting your right leg.
Step 1: Sit up tall with your back straight and eyes facing forwards.
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The Main Reasonseniors Quit
The main reason most seniors wont do chair squats daily is that: Right now squats are too difficult. When squats are too difficult many of us feel defeated before we even try a second repetition.If thats you, youre not alone.BUT, if that is you, youre going to be starting with very easy partial squats. Going down only an inch or two.Seniors who are having a difficult time getting out of a chair usually havent been exercising for many years and regular chair squats just feel too darn difficult.Thats why youll only be going down part way in the beginning. Until your legs develop more strength.Heres the key:Only squat down as far as is comfortable for You.
Strength Exercise : Hip Abductions
Standing tall with your feet close together and holding on to your chair.
Slowly bring your leg out to the side and in a controlled motion bringing your feet back together.
Ensure you keep your toes facing the front throughout this exercise, also make sure that you do not lean during this exercise or hitch your pelvis.
Repeat for the set repetitions and change legs.
For Video Demonstration of Hip Abductions:
EASIER VARIATION: Seated
PROGRESSING THE EXERCISE: Using no chair, using resistance bands
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Pro Tips For Building A Comprehensive Exercise Plan
The best exercise plan is not just one you feel comfortable doing, but one you enjoy and are likely to do regularly. Work with a trainer, physical therapist or occupational therapist to create a plan thats customized to your physical abilities and preferences. Add variety and make it fun. Schedule daily walks with a friend or partner . Pair exercise with another part of your routine, such as getting up and down from your chair 10 times before you sit down to eat dinner.
Mims advises including strengthening, stretching and balance activities into your daily routine. Consider using a fitness tracker to monitor your activity levels, and some inexpensive tools like dumbbells and resistance bands.
Easy Leg Exercises For Seniors To Improve Mobility And Balance
Did you know that falls are one of the leading causes of injury in seniors? The injuries sustained can be severe and even life-threatening if you are not cautious. This is why living in an assisted living facility can help you. The Holiday Retirement is a top retirement community in Rhode Island, offering excellent amenities for seniors. We have qualified staff to cater to your needs and ensure you are safe and healthy in your senior years. Our patient-friendly building provides easy access and allows for full mobility, even with assistive devices.
If you are worried about slips and falls, it is beneficial to understand how you can improve your balance and strength by following a regular exercise regime. Doing so will help you feel more confident when walking and moving around. The experts in our assisted living facility in Rhode Island believe that working out your legs can enhance mobility, improve flexibility, strengthen your legs, and reduce the pain in your lower back. They have put together a list of a few safe, simple, and useful exercises to improve your physical strength.
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