Unlocking the Benefits of Exercise for Independence in Older Age
By, Shelby Peterson, Wellness Manager
Keeping up with exercises and activities helps to improve and maintain mobility, flexibility, and independence in older age. When joints and muscles are not maintained properly, basic movements can cause pain and even injury. This can be prevented by following some simple exercises to get your body moving.
The first exercise is an Upper Body Clam Shell and can be done sitting or standing. Start in an upright position with your feet flat on the floor. Next, form a goalpost with your arms, a 90-degree angle with your upper arms parallel to the floor. Then, bring your forearms together in front of your face. Finally, return your arms to their starting position while squeezing your shoulder blades together. In order to make this exercise harder, you can add hand weights.
The next exercise is called the Semi-sit. This is also known as chair squats and only requires a chair. Start by standing in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Next, slowly lower your body to the chair and bend your knees like you are about to sit. Then, touch the chair lightly and return to a standing position. Make sure to engage your core by squeezing, pushing your body weight up through your heels, and don’t let your knees cave in.
The third exercise is called a Seated Abdominal Press. Start by sitting on your chair with your back straight and your feet flat of the floor. Place your hands on your knees and straighten your arms. Then press the palm of your hand on your knees and squeeze your stomach for 3-5 seconds. Finally rest and repeat.
The fourth exercise is called a Side Bend. Start by sitting on your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind your head and the other stretched to the side. Then lean to the side, like you are going to touch the floor. Squeeze your stomach and return to an upright position. Relax and repeat.
The last exercise is called a Low-back Rotation Stretch and it will help with mobility. This is done sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Twist your upper body so that your shoulders rotate to your left side. You can use the chair or your leg for support if needed to get a deeper stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the right side.
Staying active and stretching will enhance and sustain mobility and flexibility as you get older. Following exercises like these will keep you feeling healthy, mobile, and most importantly, independent!