One of the most important factors to keeping seniors healthy is exercise in an assisted living community. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends four types of exercises: strength, balance, stretching and endurance for optimum senior health and well being.
Strength exercises retain and build older adult muscles and increase metabolism. They can help keep weight down and blood sugar in check. Retirement and a reduced schedule can sometimes lead to less activity.
The key to staying strong when life slows down is to keep doing strength exercises. They build muscles and keep seniors independent. When they have strong muscles, seniors can lift grandchildren, get up from a chair by themselves and take walks. For best results, they should start slow, working up to exercising twice a week. Some examples of good strength exercises are:
- Knee flexions
- Chair stands
- Arm raises
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extensions
As we age, muscles become shorter and lose their elasticity, along with decreased range of motion in the shoulders, spine and hips. Stretching exercises give seniors more freedom of movement and help keep them flexible. Keeping up with these exercises will help your loved one move more freely and make it easier for them to reach down to pick up items off the floor or tie their shoes.
The National Institute on Aging recommends regularly stretching the neck, shoulders, upper arms, upper body, chest, back, ankles, legs, hips and calves. They can start with a few stretching exercises each day, building up to all the areas.
Balance exercises build leg muscles and keep seniors in practice for movements they may not do all the time, but still need to keep active. They are critical in helping to prevent falls. According to the NIH, U.S. hospitals have over 300,000 admissions for broken hips each year, many of them seniors, and falling is often the cause of those fractures. Balance exercises will help loved ones avoid many more serious problems that are often started with an injury. Eldergym.com has examples of great balance exercises with videos including:
- Chair supported single leg balancing
- Eye tracking
- Clock reach
- Staggered stance
- Chair supported single leg with arm
- Balancing wand
- Knee marching
- Body circles
- Heel to toe
- Stepping exercises
- Dynamic walking
Endurance exercises are any activity—walking, jogging, swimming, biking, even raking leaves or mopping floors — that increase heart rate and elevate breathing for an extended period of time.
Seniors need to build up endurance gradually, starting with as little as 5 minutes of endurance activities at a time. They should work towards getting at least 30 minutes of activity that makes them breathe hard on most or all days of the week. In an assisted living community, walking the grounds is a good start.
A dedicated, vibrant exercise program is one of the keys to senior health in any assisted living community. Learn more about our communities, resident life or schedule a tour today. We are dedicated to serving the senior community.
What kinds of exercises are you or your beloved seniors doing now?