Exercise: A Little Goes A Long Way

older adults doing yoga

Move more and sit less — the simplicity and flexibility of simply moving a bit more is attractive, as well as the benefits. Who wouldn’t want to improve their quality of life and independence as they age?

Doing anything is better than constantly sitting, and there are so many activities to choose from! Walking is the easiest exercise to begin, as most are equipped with basic shoes and the distance is easily customizable to your fitness level.

Other simple, low impact things to try:

  • Biking
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi

General Guidance

Don’t overwork yourself.

Few things are worse for your motivation than overdoing it and being overly tired and sore. If you are feeling lightheaded, uncomfortable or unsteady take a break, sit down until it passes.The last thing we want is to have to stop exercising because of an injury.

When in doubt, take small steps.

This helps protect your joints and gives the muscle more time to work, which helps you get stronger.

Gains happen on the off days.

It’s better to space out workouts, as your body recovers on “off days” — working out three to four days a week is ideal.

Benefits of Light Exercise

  • Combats weight gain
  • Reduced risk of falls in older adults
  • Better sleep quality
  • Improved bone health
  • Lower risk & improved management of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk of:
    • Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease
    • Heart disease & high blood pressure
    • Stroke
  • Help managing existing conditions:
    • Hypertension
    • Anxiety & depression
    • Multiple sclerosis & more

SOURCE: https://health.gov/our-work/physical-activity/current-guidelines/top-10-things-know

Sample Exercises

Walking

Begin with walking four times per week and work toward walking two miles, depending on fatigue and energy levels. If mileage is hard to track, consider walking for 30 minutes as roughly equivalent to walking one mile on flat ground.

Mountain Climber on the Wall

Start with your hands against the wall, leaning in slightly. Alternate lifting one leg and then the other. Ten reps per side, doing two or three sets of these 3-4 times per week.

Wall Plank

Place your hands or elbows against the wall (leaning toward the wall a bit more than the mountain climber); hold for ten seconds. Step forward with one leg to come out of it. Rest five seconds, then repeat 6-8 more times.

Touch-and-go Squat

Stand in front of a chair and slowly squat to lower yourself into it. Once you gently touch your bottom to the chair, push up with your gluteal (buttocks) muscles and legs to return to standing. Work up to 10 repetitions.

One Foot Balancing

This is done in the doorway so you can steady yourself as necessary. Do not worry if you touch the doorway from time to time; with practice you will continue to improve. Gains in stamina and strength lead to gains in balance! The goal is to be able to stand on each foot for one continuous minute without touching the door jamb or putting the other foot down. It’s a hard goal, but you are well on your way.

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