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Do your exercises indoors – for seniors

Exercises for seniors. Senior couple close to each other.

What’s the Idea?

Exercises for seniors at home who are unable to go outside.

The information provided will give you a well-rounded exercise routine which will ensure you stay active, flexible and mobile while confined indoors.

What’s the story

Although I’m only in my 50s, I have some mobility issues so it’s not always practical for me to go outside and I don’t use a gym. During this period of isolation it’s important to stay active.

I am not a physical training expert so all the information on here is provided by qualified experts.

People should do this because…?

Physical activity and exercise can help you stay healthy, energetic and independent as you get older.

Many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group.

They’re paying a high price for their inactivity, with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population.

As you get older, it becomes even more important to remain active if you want to stay healthy and maintain your independence.

If you do not stay active, all the things you’ve always enjoyed doing and taken for granted may start to become that little bit harder.

You may struggle to pursue simple pleasures, such as playing with the grandchildren, walking to the shops, leisure activities and meeting up with friends.

You might start to get aches and pains you never had before and have less energy to go out. You may also be more vulnerable to falling.

This can all lead to being less able to look after yourself and do the things you enjoy.

There’s strong evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia.

If you want to stay pain-free, reduce your risk of mental illness and be able to go out and stay independent well into old age, you’re advised to keep moving.

Recent evidence suggests that regular exercise can reduce the risk of falling in older adults.

How to get active

It’s that simple. There are lots of ways you can get active, and it’s not just about exercising.

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. It includes anything from walking and gardening to recreational sport.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.

Ideally, you should try to do something every day, preferably in bouts of 10 minutes of activity or more.

One way of achieving 150 minutes of activity is to do 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Daily chores like shopping, cooking or housework do not count towards your 150 minutes because the effort is not hard enough to raise your heart rate, although they do help break up sedentary time.

In addition to your 150-minutes target, try to do some activities that work your muscles.

This can include:

  • weight training
  • carrying heavy loads
  • heavy gardening

As well as regular physical activity, try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down during the day.

This means avoiding long periods of TV viewing, computer use, driving, or sitting to read, talk or listen to music.

How do you do it?

Sitting ExercisesThese gentle sitting exercises will help improve your mobility and prevent falls, and can even be done at home.

Don’t worry if you’ve not done much for a while – these seated exercises are gentle and easy to follow.

For these exercises for seniors, choose a solid, stable chair that doesn’t have wheels.

You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at right angles. Avoid chairs with arms, as these will restrict your movement.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water handy.

Build up slowly and aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.

Try to do these exercises at least twice a week and combine them with the other routines in this series:

Chest stretch – This stretch is good for posture.
  1. Sit upright and away from the back of the chair. Pull your shoulders back and down. Extend your arms out to the side.
  2. Gently push your chest forward and up until you feel a stretch across your chest.

Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Upper body twist – This stretch will develop and maintain flexibility in the upper back.
  1. Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and reach for your shoulders.
  2. Without moving your hips, turn your upper body to the left as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Repeat on the right side.

Do 5 times on each side.

Hip Marching – This exercise will strengthen hips and thighs, and improve flexibility.
  1. Sit upright and do not lean on the back of the chair. Hold on to the sides of the chair.
  2. Lift your left leg with your knee bent as far as is comfortable. Place your foot down with control.
  3. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Do 5 lifts with each leg.

Ankle stretchThis stretch will improve ankle flexibility and lower the risk of developing a blood clot.
  1. Sit upright, hold on to the side of the chair and straighten your left leg with your foot off the floor.
  2. With your leg straight and raised, point your toes away from you.
  3. Point your toes back towards you.

Try 2 sets of 5 stretches with each foot.

Arm raises – This exercise builds shoulder strength.
  1. Sit upright with your arms by your sides.
  2. With palms forwards, raise both arms out and to the side, and up as far as is comfortable.
  3. Return to the starting position.

Keep your shoulders down and arms straight throughout. Breathe out as you raise your arms and breathe in as you lower them. Repeat 5 times.

Neck rotation – This stretch is good for improving neck mobility and flexibility.
  1. Sit upright with your shoulders down. Look straight ahead.
  2. Slowly turn your head towards your left shoulder as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
  3. Repeat on the right.

Do 3 rotations on each side.

Neck stretch – This stretch is good for loosening tight neck muscles.
  1. Sitting upright, look straight ahead and hold your left shoulder down with your right hand.
  2. Slowly tilt your head to the right while holding your shoulder down.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hold each stretch for 5 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.

Strength exercises Strength exercises like these can be done at home to improve your health and mobility.

Do not worry if you have not done much for a while – these strength exercises are gentle and easy to follow.

For the chair-based exercises, choose a solid, stable chair that does not have wheels.

You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at right angles. Avoid chairs with arms, as these will restrict your movement.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water handy.

Build up slowly and aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.

Try to do these exercises at least twice a week and combine them with the other routines in this series:

Sit-to-stand
  1. Sit on the edge of the chair, feet hip-width apart. Lean slightly forwards.
  2. Stand up slowly using your legs, not arms. Keep looking forward and do not look down.
  3. Stand upright and then slowly sit down, bottom-first.

Aim for 5 repetitions – the slower, the better.

Mini-squats
  1. Rest your hands on the back of the chair for stability and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees as far as is comfortable, keeping them facing forwards. Aim to get them over your big toe. Keep your back straight at all times.
  3. Gently come up to standing, squeezing (clenching) your buttocks as you do so.

Repeat 5 times.

Calf raises
  1. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
  2. Lift both heels off the floor as far as is comfortable. The movement should be slow and controlled.

Repeat 5 times.

To make this more difficult, perform the exercise without support.

Sideways leg lift
  1. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
  2. Raise your left leg to the side as far as is comfortable, keeping your back and hips straight. Avoid tilting to the right.
  3. Return to the starting position. Now raise your right leg to the side as far as possible.

Raise and lower each leg 5 times.

Leg extension
  1. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
  2. Standing upright, raise your left leg backwards, keeping it straight. Avoid arching your back as you take your leg back. You should feel the effort in the back of your thigh and bottom.
  3. Repeat with the right leg.

Hold the lift for up to 5 seconds and repeat 5 times with each leg.

Wall press-up
  1. Stand an arm’s length from the wall. Place your hands flat against the wall at chest level, with your fingers pointing upwards.
  2. With your back straight, slowly bend your arms, keeping your elbows by your side. Aim to close the gap between you and the wall as much as you can.
  3. Slowly return to the start.

Attempt 3 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.

Biceps curlsYou can use a can of beans or a small bag of rice as a weight.
  1. Hold a pair of light weights (filled water bottles will do) and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping your arms by your side, slowly bend them until the weight in your hand reaches your shoulder.
  3. Slowly lower again.

This can also be carried out while sitting. Attempt 3 sets of 5 curls with each arm.

Flexibility exercises – These flexibility exercises can be done at home to help improve your health and mobility.

Don’t worry if you haven’t done much for a while – the exercises for seniors are gentle and easy to follow.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water handy. Build up slowly and aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.

Try to do these exercises at least twice a week and combine them with the other routines in this series:

Neck rotation – Improves neck mobility and flexibility.
  1. Sit upright with shoulders down. Look straight ahead.
  2. Slowly turn your head towards your left shoulder as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
  3. Repeat on the right.

Do 3 rotations on each side.

Neck stretch – Good for loosening tight neck muscles.
  1. Sitting upright, look straight ahead and hold your left shoulder down with your right hand.
  2. Slowly tilt your head to the right while holding your shoulder down.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hold each stretch for 5 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.

Sideways bend – Helps restore flexibility to the lower back.
  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides.
  2. Slide your left arm down your side as far as is comfortable. As you lower your arm, you should feel a stretch on the opposite hip.
  3. Repeat with your right arm.

Hold each stretch for 2 seconds and perform 3 on each side.

Calf stretch – Good for loosening tight calf muscles.
  1. Place your hands against a wall for stability. Bend the right leg and step the left leg back at least a foot’s distance, keeping it straight. Both feet should be flat on the floor.
  2. The left calf muscle is stretched by keeping the left leg as straight as possible and the left heel on the floor.
  3. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Perform 3 on each side.

Balance exercises – These simple balance exercises can be done at home to help improve your health and mobility.

Don’t worry if you haven’t done much exercise for a while – these balance exercises are gentle and easy to follow.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water handy. Build up slowly and aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.

Consider doing the exercises near a wall or a stable chair just in case you lose your balance.

Try to do these exercises at least twice a week and combine them with the other routines in this series:

Sideways walking

  1. Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent.
  2. Step sideways in a slow and controlled manner, moving one foot to the side first.
  3. Move the other to join it.

Avoid dropping your hips as you step. Perform 10 steps each way or step from one side of the room to the other.

Simple grapevine – This involves walking sideways by crossing one foot over the other.
  1. Start by crossing your right foot over your left.
  2. Bring your left foot to join it.

Attempt 5 cross-steps on each side. If necessary, put your fingers against a wall for stability. The smaller the step, the more you work on your balance.

Heel-to-toe walk
  1. Standing upright, place your right heel on the floor directly in front of your left toe.
  2. Then do the same with your left heel. Make sure you keep looking forward at all times. If necessary, put your fingers against a wall for stability.

Try to perform at least 5 steps. As you progress, move away from the wall.

One-leg stand
  1. Start by standing facing the wall, with arms outstretched and your fingertips touching the wall.
  2. Lift your left leg, keep your hips level and keep a slight bend in the opposite leg. Gently place your foot back on the floor.

Hold the lift for 5 to 10 seconds and perform 3 on each side.

Step-up – Use a step, preferably with a railing or near a wall, to use as support.
  1. Step up with your right leg.
  2. Bring your left leg up to join it.
  3. Step down again and return to the start position.

The key for building balance is to step up and down slowly and in a controlled manner. Perform up to 5 steps with each leg.

Remember:

Consult your GP before starting any exercise routine.

Make sure you have plenty of room.

Don’t try to push yourself too hard.

Make a diary or calendar note so you keep a track of your activity.

Equipment

  • A pair of trainers or supportive walking shoes
  • Loose, comfortable clothes
  • A bottle of water

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