You’ve probably heard the expression, “move it or lose it.” But seniors are less active now since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, so it’s more important than ever to get moving at home. Exercise can help seniors improve strength, balance and mobility—all essential to staying independent. Plus, it can help protect older adults from disease and keep problems like arthritis and hypertension more manageable.
Here are five simple, but important, exercises that everyone should do. They are all easy to do at home at whatever time fits best in your day. Remember, always check with your doctor before you start any new exercise routine
Stand on one leg
This exercise will help keep you walking and climbing stairs as long as possible.
The basics Stand tall with feet together, and tighten your core muscles to avoid leaning. Lift your arms straight up to the side, and hold onto a chair or counter if necessary. Lift one foot off the floor as though you were going to kick something and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Challenge yourself Increase the time you hold each leg up and/or the number of repetitions. Hold each leg up higher. If you feel well-balanced, try it without holding on to anything.
One foot in front of the other
Also known as the tandem stance, this exercise is often used to assess balance. Doing it regularly can improve stability and balance, which can decrease the risk of falls.
The basics Start out like the exercise above by standing tall and holding your arms out to the side. But instead of holding one leg up, put one leg in front of the other lined up heel to toe like you are standing on a tightrope. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with your feet switched.
Challenge yourself Increase the time you hold each position, try it without holding on or add a small weight in each hand.
The farmer’s walk
Here, the idea is a basic walk designed to build core muscles by carrying weight. Think about a farmer carrying a bucket of water with each hand. If you don’t have weights, use empty half gallon milk bottles so you can choose the amount of weight to start with and add to as you progress.
The basics Stand tall with feet together and make sure you have a clear pathway. Keep your shoulders back and grip the weights tightly in a neutral position. Start with 5 to 10 steps forward, carefully turn around and go 5 to 10 steps back.
Challenge yourself As you build strength and stamina, increase either the distance and/or the weight to get more benefit from the exercise.
This is a particularly important exercise because being able to go from sitting to standing is so important for daily life and doing regular activities independently.
The basics Start by sitting on a sturdy chair that won’t slide. Scoot your hips up to the edge of the chair and bring your toes under your knees. Put your hands down on the chair next to your hips and push off to get to a standing position. Sit back down carefully and repeat 5-10 times.
Challenge yourself To make it tougher, don’t hold on to the chair. Instead, put your hands on your knees to lift yourself up, or make it even more challenging by crossing your hands across your chest and lift yourself without assistance from your arms.
This exercise works at stabilizing your core and strengthening the muscles that help you balance.
The basics Sit up tall at the edge of a sturdy chair. With maximum control, tighten your lower abdominal muscles and lift one knee up several inches. Hold for 5 seconds and lower the leg. Repeat on the other side.
Challenge yourself Work on building the number of repetitions and the amount of time you hold up each leg. For a bigger challenge, try this exercise in a standing position.
Home Care Angels provides assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, eating and personal care, from home service aides. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information on in-home care.