May 25th is National Senior Health Day, and we’re celebrating by talking about healthy habits for seniors. While some people argue that diet and nutrition is the most important piece of the health puzzle, others maintain that daily exercise is equally important for seniors.
Some seniors take their activity to the next level, like the man who plans to run seven marathons in seven days, or this ballroom dancing queen, but for others, exercising may be a new concept. Unsure of where to start? Here are a few exercises for seniors at home, with no equipment needed!
1. Toe Touches
How to perform the exercise: With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand tall and straight with your shoulders back, looking into the mirror. Slowly bend down at the waist, maintaining eye contact with yourself in the mirror while you reach for your toes. Hold the position for three seconds, and then raise yourself back to your original position.
Notes: Maintain eye contact with yourself in the mirror in order to keep your back straight.
The benefits of toe touches: Toe touches are great for increasing flexibility and blood circulation. Additionally, toe touches strengthens the core muscles—abdominals, lower back and lumbar, and hamstrings. Toe touches also helps balance, which can help with fall prevention.
How to perform the exercise: Place your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight and your arms in front of you, then bend at the knee straight down, without bending your knees too far over your toes. Hold the lowest position for at least one full second before returning to a standing position.
Notes: Keep your eye on your toes. If your knees bend so far over your feet that you cannot see your toes, you are not performing the exercise properly. Beginners can start by sitting in a chair and standing/sitting repeatedly.
The benefits of squatting: Ball State University’s research suggests that maintaining mobility as we age is one of the most important factors in remaining healthy and active as seniors. Squatting is one of the few exercises that engages the entire body, establishes balance, helps to increase mobility, and strengthens the entire body.
3. High Knees
How to perform the exercise: Stand in front of the mirror with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders back. Then, bring one knee up and as close to your chest as possible before alternating the pose with the opposite leg. You should look like you are marching in place.
Notes: Begin by walking in place, and then slowly bring your knees up higher as you feel more comfortable with the position. For an added bonus, twist your upper body so that your opposite elbow touches the alternate knee (example: lifted left knee, twist your body so your right elbow meets your left knee at the top of the lift).
The benefits of high knees: High knees helps to improve posture, strengthens and engages the core, and helps with balance. High knees are a perfect exercise for seniors because they can begin with a stationary walk, and then work up to lifting their knees higher, ultimately strengthening the core and lower body.
Exercising for Seniors is Important
Maintaining mobility and staying active are essential to a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Research supports that engaging in companion activities like dancing, playing instruments, and even laughing all elevate the heart and can even help prevent degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
While some people may believe that dietary nutrition is the key to a healthy lifestyle, we believe that a balance between diet, supplements, and activity are the right combination for seniors who want to maintain their independence and stay active and healthy.