Exercises That Help Seniors Stay in Shape

Posted on January 15, 2019

Exercise is an excellent way for older adults to stay healthy and maintain their strength. It is common for many seniors to give up on exercising because it can be difficult and painful if not done correctly. Many of the exercises your parents may have done when they were younger are not as beneficial for them to do now. Whoever knew that going for a run could be a bad thing? Let’s discuss some exercises that are safe, simple, and effective for older adults.

Potentially Harmful Exercises 

While activity is excellent for the body, you have to know how to do it the right way. Some exercises are can be more dangerous for seniors because they involve high-impact movements that can damage joints and ligaments. Chances are, if you get exhausted doing an activity, your parents will do damage to themselves doing the same exercise. According to Silver Sneakers, some of the most harmful activities for older adults are:

  • Running
  • Leg press
  • Crunch
  • Deadlift
  • Upright row

Many other exercises aren’t great for seniors, but we can’t list them all. The best approach is to stick with what you know works.

Excellent Exercises for Seniors

Although many exercises are harmful to seniors, there are a few that great. It’s possible for an older adult to get fit without exerting themselves too much. Many slow, calculated exercises that use little or no weight are fine for most seniors to perform. Of course, we recommend consulting a doctor before suggesting any of these exercises to your loved one to make sure there is no risk of injury. These four exercises allow older adults to use their muscles, increase balance and improve heart strength.

  • Walking – Walking is excellent for an older adult to do because it promotes good posture and works several muscles that are essential to well-being. The muscles that support your balance in your waist, legs and ankles are being strengthened, which is never a bad thing. Walking can also increase your heart rate, strengthening your cardiac muscles.
  • Squats – Squats can do a lot for the lower body because it’s uncommon for seniors to lift with their legs. While walking does provide some strength in the legs, squats are what will help to build muscle in the legs. The lifting motion that a squat has helps to build muscle in the quadriceps and hamstrings, providing more muscle than walking can offer.
  • Pushups – Everyone knows pushups are great for the body and they are one of the most often completed exercises in the world. Pushups build muscle in the entire upper body including the chest, triceps, biceps, and shoulders. If your loved one is unable to do a traditional pushup, don’t worry. There are two other ways to do pushups; either on the knees or with the hands placed on an elevated surface, relieving some of the body weight under the arms.
  • Lat pulldowns – Lat pulldowns are a less common exercise, but they are still useful. Complete this exercise by pulling a weight from above the head downward, causing the back muscles to strengthen. Seniors must improve their back muscles because it provides stability and balance

Consistency is Key

If your loved one is struggling to be consistent with their exercise, it never hurts to give them some encouragement. As you likely know, nobody sees improvement after exercising one time. Exercise is something that has to become a habit to reap the benefits. If your loved one is in an assisted living community, many people can help with proper exercises. It may be helpful to speak to skilled nursing professionals at the community to learn how to incorporate training into your loved one’s daily routine!