Exercises for Older Adults
Exercise doesn’t have to be too rigorous – it just has to be consistent in order to provide you with the health benefits of exercising. Regular exercise and physical activity is important at any age. Staying active as we get older isn’t just about keeping muscles healthy, but is a way to help maintain independence and improve overall health and well-being.
Engaging in physical activity can not only improve mobility and strength, which is particularly important for older adults, but it can also boost our mood and provide important opportunities for social connection. A healthy lifestyle and physical activity may reduce the risk of developing some chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, exercise may also help reduce complications associated with chronic health conditions. It is advised to seek medical advice before starting any exercise program so that it can be tailored to your needs.
There are different types of physical activity options that older adults can participate in to improve strength, flexibility and provide a positive and healthy lifestyle. From aerobic exercises to yoga, Tai Chi, strength training and more, it’s never too late to start moving!
Warm up exercises
For older adults, warming the body and the muscles prior to any type of physical activity is important in reducing the risk of injury during a workout. Warm up exercises also assist with the recovery process after a great workout has been done!
There are many low impact warm up exercises that older adults can do, depending on the type of workout you’re about to commence in and the limitations your body may have.
Don’t forget to also speak to your GP or specialist and engage with a qualified exercise professional prior to conducting any physical activity.
Balance exercises for older adults
Balance exercises is a form of physical activity that can be enjoyed by everyone at any age. Balance training for people 65+ years old has been shown to be beneficial in maintaining and improving postural control and mobility. It’s also a way to prevent falls, especially for older adults who continue to live at home alone. When starting an exercise program that involves balance exercises for older adults, starting slow is the way to go. All activities should start at a level that is manageable, and is then built on over the course of time through regular aerobic activity sessions that suit the individual needs. This prevents any injuries while also maintaining good form with every move.
There are many great ways to incorporate balance exercises that can be fun. These activities may already be part of your everyday routine already such as gardening and cleaning. Other wonderful balance exercises that will positively benefit you may also include:
- Fitness classes in yoga and/or Tai Chi
- Side leg raises while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil
- Heel raises that are shoulder-width apart
Resistance exercises for older adults
Resistance training and strength training can be shown to maintain and increase muscle strength for older adults who frequently partake in this form of physical activity. There are studies to show that older adults, who have previously not met physical activity guidelines, find resistance training as a motivating way to add fitness into their routines. This form of fitness training provides many health benefits such as the development of muscle mass, an increase overall body strength, loss of excess weight and managing visceral fat that can be related to Type 2 Diabetes.
There are many simple resistance exercises that can be performed without the need of a gym, including:
- Sit and stand with a chair
- Wall press/Push-ups against the wall
- Bicep curls with water bottles
- Bent-over rows while sitting on a chair
- Calf raises
- Standing hip abductions
- Frontal raises
- Use of resistance bands
Exercise and fitness program for aged care residents
Continuing to do everyday tasks such as using stairs, reaching for things, spending time gardening and shopping as we age, can be aided by keeping active through regular exercise. These activities can also be seen as incidental physical activity – you’re exercising without even realising it!
Building strength and flexibility, and maintaining balance, can also help to prevent falls in older people, so exercise is great for helping to keep older Australians on their feet. Exercise for older adults can take many forms depending on their individual circumstances. From individual exercise programs, one-on-one personal training sessions, group activities, and even incidental exercise activities mentioned above. This is why it’s so important to consult with professionals prior to starting any new physical activity programs.
Working with YMCA, we created an exciting exercise program for residents at our home. We also have our PowerMoves program across a number of our homes to assist residents in participating in physical activity that is not only fun, but allows them to continue living a healthy lifestyle. We run a range of other wonderful aged care activities that can be enjoyed by all residents.
Before commencing any new exercise program, it is always advisable to discuss it with your doctor or health provider.