National Senior Health and Fitness Day Exercises

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National Senior Health and Fitness Day

Exercise is important no matter how old you are. From a toddler making his first steps to a grandmother enjoying her retirement, staying healthy and fit should be a priority for everyone. Since today, May 30th, is National Senior Health and Fitness Day, we are going to be discussing activities that our older loved ones can participate in.

Strength, endurance, balance and flexibility are four areas that you want to target when exercising. Strength exercises increase muscle strength and keep your bones healthy and strong. Endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate and contribute to your overall health. Balance exercises help you to become steady and prevent falls. Flexibility exercises help your body stay limber and provide range of motion for your joints. Listed below are easy exercises that you and your older relative can do.

Strength Exercises

Wrist Curl

  1. Rest your forearm on the arm of a sturdy chair with your hand over the edge.
  2. Hold weight with palm facing upward.
  3. Slowly bend your wrist up and down.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times.
  5. Repeat with other hand 10-15 times.
  6. Repeat 10-15 more times with each hand.

Overhead Arm Raise

  1. You can do this exercise while standing or sitting in a sturdy, armless chair.
  2. Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  3. Hold weights at your sides at shoulder height with palms facing forward. Breathe in slowly.
  4. Slowly breathe out as you raise both arms up over your head keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  5. Hold the position for 1 second.
  6. Breathe in as you slowly lower your arms.
  7. Repeat 10-15 times.
  8. Rest; then repeat 10-15 more times.

Chair Dip

  1. Sit in a sturdy chair with armrests with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean slightly forward; keep your back and shoulders straight.
  3. Grasp arms of chair with your hands next to you. Breathe in slowly.
  4. Breathe out and use your arms to push your body slowly off the chair.
  5. Hold position for 1 second.
  6. Breathe in as you slowly lower yourself back down.
  7. Repeat 10-15 times.
  8. Rest; then repeat 10-15 more times.

Endurance Exercises

Walking has many benefits some of them are that it lowers your risk of heart disease, keeps your weight steady and strengthens your muscles.

Riding a bike provides a whole-body workout. It improves your cardiovascular fitness, keeps your joints mobile and strengthens your bones.

Swimming is a great full body workout. It is light on your joints and helps you maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart, and lungs.

Balance Exercises

Balance Walk

  1. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
  4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

Stand on one foot

  1. Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
  2. Hold position for up to 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 10-15 times.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times with other leg.
  5. Repeat 10-15 more times with each leg.

Heel to toe walk

  1. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  3. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
  4. Repeat for 20 steps.

Flexibility Exercises

Upper Back

  1. Sit in a sturdy, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold arms in front of you at shoulder height with palms facing outward.
  3. Relax your shoulders, keep your upper body still, and reach forward with your hands. Stop when you feel a stretch or slight discomfort.
  4. Hold position for 10-30 seconds.
  5. Sit back up.
  6. Repeat at least 3-5 times.

Thigh (Standing)

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees straight, but not locked.
  2. Hold on to the chair for balance with your right hand.
  3. Bend your left leg back and grab your foot in your left hand. Keep your knee pointed to the floor. If you can’t grab your ankle, loop a resistance band, belt, or towel around your foot and hold both ends.
  4. Gently pull your leg until you feel a stretch in your thigh.
  5. Hold position for 10-30 seconds.
  6. Repeat at least 3-5 times.
  7. Repeat at least 3-5 times with your right leg.

Calf

  1. Stand facing a wall slightly farther than arm’s length from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Step forward with right leg and bend right knee. Keeping both feet flat on the floor, bend left knee slightly until you feel a stretch in your left calf muscle. It shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. If you don’t feel a stretch, bend your right knee until you do.
  4. Hold position for 10-30 seconds, and then return to starting position.
  5. Repeat with left leg.
  6. Continue alternating legs for at least 3-5 times on each leg.

Other Exercises that are Good for Strength, Endurance, Flexibility, and Balance

Water aerobics- is a low impact exercise that increases muscular strength, builds endurance, and increases flexibility.

Yoga– is a mind, body and spirit discipline that is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga has many health benefits. It improves balance, flexibility and reduces stress and high blood pressure.

Tai Chi- According to the National Institute on Aging at NIH “in tai chi, which is sometimes called “moving meditation,” you work to improve your balance by moving your body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply. Other benefits from practicing tai chi include:

  • improvements in bone and heart health
  • easing of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis
  • better sleep
  • improvements in overall wellness”

There are many ways to get active this season. From bike riding to Tai chi and simple exercises you can do in your own home. So, get up, get active and celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day!

Learn more about senior health at https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/

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