A sedentary lifestyle is not really great for anyone, regardless of age. Even a little bit of exercise – whatever you are capable of – is enough to improve your quality of life. Stretching and exercise can help you remain loose and limber; it can improve your balance, reducing the risk of falls; it can strengthen your muscles, helping you live more independently; it can improve your cardiovascular system, helping your heart beat happily and healthily; and it can even facilitate social connections with other like-minded people.
In short: exercise has many benefits. That’s why, in this post, we’re going to run through a few popular exercises and stretches that you, or the Senior in your life, can try. We’ve broken the exercises up according to function. Balance exercises help you improve balance and mobility. Strength exercises are geared toward strengthening your muscles and core. And stretches help you increase your flexibility and range of motion. Add some cardio exercises, which are terrific for the cardiovascular system, and you have a well-rounded exercise regimen.
These represent only a small sample of the wide array of exercises and stretches available. Here we have listed nine exercises and stretches – three for each section – but in actuality there are hundreds, if not thousands more out there. However, before we dive into specific exercises, it is important to understand the benefits of in-home physiotherapy services, which can not only help you navigate the wide world of exercise, but help you do so safely and happily.
The Benefits of Physiotherapy Services
If you want to stretch and exercise under the watch and guidance of a healthcare professional, contact Integracare about our physiotherapy services. Our amazing Physiotherapists are dedicated to providing compassionate, professional service to Seniors in the GTA and Mississauga.
Physiotherapists can be particularly effective and helpful when recovering from a surgery, injury or accident. Physiotherapy is a large part of the rehabilitative process, but it can be annoying and distressful to have to transport yourself to a physio session in a clinic, which can sometimes be all the way across town. It’s far better to find physiotherapy services at home, where you are comfortable and rooted. Read more about our in home physiotherapy services on our website, or give us a call anytime.
The heel-toe walk is just as it sounds: with your shoulders in and abs tight, you take one foot and put it ahead of the other, moving your foot heel-to-toe. Then you repeat, walking in a straight line. Have your arms outstretched for balance as you do the heel-toe walk, and don’t hesitate to use a nearby wall for added stabilization if need be; safety should be prioritized above all. This simple exercise is effective in improving balance.
No, you do not have to dress all in pink to pull this one off! The goal here is to simply stand on one leg, which will not only improve balance, but also give your glutes and core a gentle workout. Resist the temptation to slouch while performing the flamingo stand: keep your shoulders and back straight, and your chin up. As with any standing exercise, especially one requiring tricky balance, have something nearby to support you, like a chair, counter or table. Ideally, you want supervision for this one.
Rock the Boat
Rock the Boat isn’t just a disco hit from the 70s – it’s also a valuable exercise to have in your repertoire. This one is fairly easy. Find a chair and stand behind in, feet shoulder’s width apart, with your hands on the top of the chair to brace yourself. Next, rock side-to-side, lifting a foot a little each time you teeter, as though you are being rocked by a swaying boat. With time you will be able to lift you’re foot a little more, and for a little longer.
Seniors are often searching for activities to help them stay healthy and strong, and these strength exercises are a natural place to start. Push-ups are great for strength, as they work the chest muscles, shoulders and triceps. The only issue is that conventional push-ups, which require you to work against gravity to hoist your own body weight, can be excessively difficult.
Enter the wall push-up – essentially a vertical version of the classic exercise. Facing a wall, outstretch your arms and lean against it, palms flat. Then, go through the motions of a regular push up, breathing as you bend your elbows and move toward the wall. Be absolutely sure your footing is secure, with no loose rug underneath, or enlist the help of a professional in-home physiotherapist to guide you.
These hip exercises come courtesy of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). In their write-up, they list two hip-healthy exercises – one for hip adduction, and another for abduction, both working your legs and thighs.
Let’s start with hip adduction. Using a resistance band – which you can buy online or at most large stores – loop one end of the band around a solid object, and the other around your ankle. Move your ankle away from the object, putting tension on the band, and therefore your muscles. For abduction, stand inside the resistance band, looping an end around each ankle, and raise one leg at a time out to the side. For visual cues, visit the link above.
Lie down on the floor, somewhere comfortable, with your knees bent, and your arms to your side flat on the ground. Gently lift your hips, to form a straight line with your back, stabilizing yourself with your arms still on the ground. Let your hips sink gently back to the ground. This is one repetition of an exercise that is powerfully effective at strengthening your thighs and – as the name suggests – glutes. It can be a difficult exercise, so if you are unsure, or just beginning to exercise, it is wise to consult with a professional.
Sometimes the best form of activity is a good stretch. It helps keep us limber, improving function and mobility. When life is being a pain in the neck, try this neck stretch.
Sitting in a comfortable chair (or even the bed) with your back straight and gaze straight ahead, gently tilt your head to the left side, until you feel a slight stretch in the right side of your neck. Repeat with the other side. You can also stretch front to back by gently dipping your chin until a light stretch is felt in the back of the neck. As with any new stretching routine, you should do this under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
Stay seated for this next stretch, which works on your shoulders. Arms comfortably at your side, raise your shoulders up toward your ears, and then in a fluid motion bring them back and down, creating a rolling effect, when repeated. You can then reverse the direction. The number of repetitions will depend on you, and, as always, it’s best to consult with a physiotherapist first.
Single Knee to Chest
For back pain relief, or to warm up stiff lower back and leg muscles in the morning, try the single knee to chest stretch. Lying on your back, with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor (or bed), clasp your left leg under the knee and gently bring it toward your chest. Try to relax as much as possible, and hold the leg in place for a second when you feel a stretch in your leg and lower back. Gently lower your left leg, and turn your attention to the right leg, repeating back and forth as necessary – about three or four times, in general.
Again, these are just a few of the many stretches available to help Seniors stay balanced, strong and limber. To do these stretches and exercises safely and with professional guidance, contact Integracare about our amazing in-home Physiotherapy services.