“To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise”- Gene Tunney.
Why is exercise essential for me? You might ask. Sure, you don’t need to build muscles or zap off fat. But apart from the physical aspects of exercising, there are numerous physiological, psychological, and health-related benefits linked with daily exercising.
Moreover, exercising helps improve flexibility, lift up your mood, and it increases blood supply to your brain.
However, with increasing age, your joints tend to weaken. Also, the rate of recovery of your body cells and tissues decreases. Therefore, it is neither feasible nor advisable to over-exert your body while exercising. A fitness routine for the elderly should consist of low impact exercises which can help improve balance and flexibility.
Let’s have a look at some exercises which you can perform in the comfort of your homes.
1. Gentle stretching
The main aim of stretching is to reducing stiffness by improving the blood supply to your muscles. Gentle stretching helps alleviate backaches, and maintain a proper posture. There are a few exercises mentioned below which can help you do just that:
- Head Stretch: Start by gently tilting your head to one side. Repeat it on the other side.
- Shoulder Stretch: For this stretching exercise, start by standing with your feet at an arm’s length from each other. Take your hands at the back and interlock them near your hips. Slowly, try to raise your interlocked hands by taking them away from your hips.
- Hip stretch: For this, put your hands on your waist and circle your hips alternatively in a clockwise and an anti-clockwise direction.
- Back Stretch: Start by standing with your feet apart. Next, place your hands on your back for support. Bend your back gently while trying to look up at the ceiling. Slowly, come back to the original position.
- Ankle stretch: Sit on a chair comfortably. Gently stretch and lift your right leg off the floor. Rotate your ankle clockwise and anti-clockwise. Repeat with the other leg.
Frequency and repetitions: These stretching exercises can be performed daily. You can do 5-10 repetitions of each of these stretches.
Precaution: Don’t hold your stretch for too long. If you feel pain in a particular muscle, slowly come back to your normal position and relax.
2. Balancing exercises
Balancing exercises are of great importance to seniors as they help strengthen thigh and leg muscles to reduce incidences of tripping, stumbling, and falling. These also help in strengthening your hips and ankles. There are a few balancing exercises mentioned below:
- Chair exercise: Sit straight on an armless chair. Keep your right hand on the left shoulder and the left hand on the right shoulder. Try rising from the chair and then try sitting down. Try not to arch and reach for any support while doing this.
- Heel-toe walk: Try walking on your toes. Do this practice for at least 5 minutes a day.
- Back Leg Raising: Start by standing behind a chair and grabbing it firmly. Slowly lift your right leg off the floor while keeping the other leg on the ground. Try keeping the lifted leg as straight as possible. Repeat on the other side. You can do 5 -10 repetitions of this exercise.
3. Yoga for the elderly
a) Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose: This asana helps in opening up your chest and shoulder muscles.
- Lie down on your back
- Flex your arms at the elbows and keep them close to your chest
- As you inhale, lift your upper chest off the ground
- Exhale and come back to your original position
- Repeat this for five counts
Precautions: Don’t do this asana if you suffer from chronic backaches.
b) Bhadrasana or The Butterfly Pose: This asana helps in improving flexibility and also helps in strengthening the pelvic floor.
- Sit straight with your spine erect.
- Gently bend your knees and bring your soles close to your nether regions in a way that the soles touch each other.
- Hold this position for 2 seconds.
- Alternatively, you can flutter your knees, and thighs up and down like the wings of a butterfly.
- Repeat this for ten counts.
Remember not to exert yourself too much while practicing any of these exercises. Also, make sure to stay hydrated and eat nutritious food. Also, always make sure to consult your doctor and get your fitness levels examined before starting any exercise schedule.
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