As the body gets older, it’s inevitable that problems such as limited mobility and health conditions can impact upon the freedom to get around and maintain a good level of fitness. However despite the myths surrounding senior fitness, exercise only increases in importance for the elderly, as an unbeatable way to improve flexibility, strength and wellbeing. If you have an elderly relative who is struggling with a health condition or the ability to keep fit in their golden years, there are plenty of alternative exercises out there. Introduce them to a few of these 5 simple yet effective solutions, and give them a workable routine to keep them up and about.
1. Keep Fit Whilst You Sit
A common illusion is that if you are wheelchair bound then you’re prevented from doing any exercise. As a matter of fact, there are many ways that you can keep fit whilst sitting down. Invest in a few hand weights that can used to work the arms and upper body with daily exercises. Meanwhile lifts and stretches with the legs can work the quadriceps and calves to improve strength and blood flow. Today, you can even purchase wheelchair exercise DVDs that can provide full routines and motivation for seniors to keep fit at home.
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Ideal for anyone over 65 experiencing problems with their joints and flexibility such as arthritis, yoga is a low impact sport that can easily be personalised to the individual requirements. Yoga is excellent for building core strength, reducing aches and pains, and making older bones more supple, and can even be done in a wheelchair if necessary. Yoga classes are available all around the UK, whilst there are an exhaustive amount of online resources than you can print off if your relative doesn’t have access to a computer. If your elderly relative is unable or unwilling to join a yoga class, why not learn a suitable routine and teach them yourself to help them become accustomed to it?
Exercise doesn’t need to be extreme. Walking is the simplest and sometimes the most effective form of exercise for elderly people. 30 minutes of walking a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by a massive 40 percent, and on a sunny day there’s nothing better than a pleasant stroll around a park. 30 minutes might be a little ambitious for those with limited mobility, however even a slow and steady walk around the block is worthwhile fresh air and exercise, psychologically as well as physically. Perhaps you or your relative is worried about slips, trips and falls? In this case get you or a carer to accompany them a few times a week for a steady walk to the shops instead of that catch up over a cup of tea.
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Recommended as a safe form of exercise for anyone from injured sportsmen to pregnant women, swimming is fantastic for older people of all capabilities. Whether they suffer from weak joints or a heart condition, it’s extremely low impact and a good all-round workout for the body. Resistance training in the water and water aerobics are all great ways to get fit without risking injury, and these can easily be done with floats or in the shallow end. Most swimming pools have classes that cater to those with limited mobility, and if your relative isn’t a strong swimmer then you could consider swimming lessons or going with them yourself.
Yes that’s right, this popular senior hobby is in fact an excellent form of exercise for your elderly relatives. Not only is it very much a therapeutic activity that combines fresh air with something rewarding, it’s an easy way to keep fit whilst having fun. Studies have linked gardening to longer life spans amongst those over 65, so whether they have a garden themselves of you could use a little company whilst you do the weeding this weekend, encourage your relative to take up gardening.
If you’re prepared to spend a bit of time and effort helping your elderly relative to get active, there are many ways in which they can incorporate exercise into their daily routine. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to stay fit and healthy, however it certainly isn’t impossible. Become familiar with their capabilities and restrictions, do your research, and be realistic about your goals. There are a wealth of online resources available in order to find appropriate exercises for specific conditions amongst the elderly, however if you are worried about recommending a routine to your relatives then visit their doctor.
About the author:
This guest blog post has been brought to you by Harold Rigby, providing health and lifestyle advice to those over the age of 65 to make those golden years memorable.