Getting old is not for the weak of heart. However, with proper guidance and the correct exercises, healthy aging is a reality! An exercise program developed by a trained professional has many key benefits. These include:
- Increased strength to perform daily tasks and prevent falls
- Improved flexibility to reduce joint and body pain
- Enhanced cardiovascular performance and reduced shortness of breath
- Elevated bone density and reduced risk of fractures
- Increased cognitive performance and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
When building your exercise program, consider the following 5 exercises for your program to enhance your independence:
Top 5 Exercises for Healthy Aging
The calf muscles are important to keep limber as they are the first line of defense when recovering from a loss of balance. In addition, maintaining good calf flexibility and strength is key for the ability to walk quickly. Calf weakness is highly correlated with falls and mortality and is not something to take for granted.
To perform this exercise: Stand facing a wall with feet in a lunge. Lunge forward keeping back leg straight and heel on the ground. Hold 30 seconds. Avoid hunching forward.
As we age our bodies tend to hunch forward placing increased stress on our spine and strain on the muscles of the upper back and neck. This tendency to hunch comes form poor posture, generalized weakness of the back muscles, and inactivity, causing tight chest muscles. This stretch will help you to maintain your erect posture and ensure you are at less risk for getting a hunched or humped back.
To perform this exercise: Place arm along a doorjamb with elbow at 90 degrees. Gently rotate away from arm to feel a stretch across the chest. Hold 30 seconds.
In conjunction with the chest stretch, the row assists in maintaining upright posture by strengthening the back muscles that hold the spine upright. These same muscles will also maintain your ability to lift objects safely.
To perform this exercise:
Using elastic band, gently pull arms toward your side as you wrap shoulder blades onto your back. Repeat 8-12 times. Can be performed without a band
Squatting is one of the most functional exercises you can perform since it simulates many daily tasks like getting on and off the toilet, up and down from a chair, and stooping to pick something up. Squatting also is beneficial because it strengthens many muscles in the legs, hips, and back, muscles that often are key for preventing falls..
To perform this exercise: Stand with feet a comfortable distance apart. Create tension in your stomach then bend as if sitting into a chair. Return to full upright standing. Repeat 8-12 times.
Single Leg Balance:
As we age, our bodies naturally lose their ability to maintain balance. However, with exercise and regular practice, an aging body can retain the same balance capabilities when compared to a younger counterpart. Standing on one leg is a key skill to help practice your balance.
To perform this activity: Hold on to something sturdy with light fingertips. Press tall through one leg then lift your opposite leg. Hold as long as possible with a goal of 30 seconds.
To download a PDF of these exercises, visit https://reachyours.com/healthyaging/
Regular performance of these five exercises will help maintain the strength, flexibility, and balance your body needs as you age. A consistent exercise program will keep you independent, strong, and young at heart, even if the years continue to tick by! To speak to one of our licensed therapists, visit https://reachyours.com/contact-us/.
Photo by Vlad Sargu on Unsplash