- Aerobic, or endurance, activities to increase your heart rate and improve your breathing
- Strength exercises to make your muscles stronger
- Balance exercises to help prevent falls
- Flexibility exercises to stretch your muscles and help your body stay agile and flexible
Here are a few examples of the different types of exercises seniors can do to maintain strength and flexibility.
Stair walking requires coordination, balance, and strong glute muscles, quads, and hamstrings. In chronic stroke patients, regular stair training (30 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks) improved postural control and balance.
Dance the Night (and Day) Away
Dancing isn’t just fun. It can be a potent training tool, too. And everything seems to work. Whether it’s Celtic, traditional Country and Western, Scottish country dance, or line dancing, dancing can really increase functional capacity and even strength in older adults.
There are lots of ways to use dance as part of a fitness regimen. Take a class. Put on your best music playlist in the morning and dance along in your kitchen or living room. Play dancing video games with your grandchild.
Jump, Jump, Jump
For most older people, jumping would seem too difficult to consider because steps become daunting obstacles. The prospect of jumping up onto, over, or down from objects is difficult to understand when you’re worried about breaking or tearing something but it turns out that jump training can actually improve strength and functional capacity in elderly women.
Regular practitioners of tai chi develop stronger legs and have more muscle endurance than those who don’t practice the art. It has been shown to prevent declines in lower limb strength in older men and improve bone density and muscle strength in older women.
Have a (Medicine) Ball
Medicine balls slams are fun to do. They’re difficult, but because you’re slamming a sphere into the ground with all your strength, you forget the work and focus on the sensation. It’s a good strength-building workout. As part of a program that including a little strength training and jumping, high speed medicine ball training increased muscle strength and power in older women.
Research supports the idea of senior citizens playing sports. For example, soccer training improved basically every health and fitness biomarker measured in middle-aged women. Studies showed that a year of playing soccer improved blood pressure, fat mass, bone density, endurance, and blood lipids in mildly hypertensive middle-aged women.
Go for a Walk
One way to get the blood flowing is just to go for a walk. Make it a social occasion and have a neighbor or friend join you. Muscle strength can decrease as time passes, but frequent walking helps to improve agility and prevent stiffness in senior citizens.
Walking also builds up your lower-body strength, which is crucial in keeping good balance, improving circulation, and many other benefits. Long walks can also leave you feeling refreshed and help you clear your mind. If you need support, use a cane.
For seniors, it is also important to add resistance exercise into any daily exercise routine because it increases muscle elasticity and strengthens tendons and ligaments. Strength training also makes it easier to go up and down stairs, and improves balance.
Strengthen The Core
A great exercise to try is a “sit-back”, which can strengthen the core muscles that
help you with everyday tasks, like getting out of bed in the morning or pulling yourself up from a chair. Start on the floor, sitting with your knees bent and arms crossed in front of your chest. Slowly lean back, keeping your feet planted on the floor and making sure to go only as far as you’re comfortable. Return to the starting position and repeat another ten times.