Adventures in Retirement – Exercising at home – seniors can do it

Written by admin. Posted in Health & Wellness, Senior Living

Published on May 12, 2020 with No Comments

Most seniors don’t get enough exercise. One reason is that to some it takes too much time and trouble to go to the local YMCA or other fitness facility. Also, it can be costly. As a result, most seniors have joint and muscle problems that could be lessened if they exercised more.

But in today’s COVID-19 world, it is not recommended to leave home except for urgent reasons. However, it is easy, saves time and saves money to exercise at home if you know what to do. Also, in a stay-at-home world you should have plenty of time to do what is good for you.

Seniors should realize that it is very difficult to get into shape. But it is realistic to maintain your level of fitness and control your weight. In a fitness facility, the instructors will usually tailor a program for your needs and goals, e.g., lose weight, build up the legs, strengthen the upper body, etc. Because everyone is different, I can’t give you a program that is ideal for everyone. In my case, I have injuries to one of my shoulders and my spine, so my program includes rehabilitation for these areas.

Since many seniors have similar injury issues to their upper bodies and backs, or at least have weaknesses in their backs and upper bodies, my program may be beneficial for many of them.

I usually do a rehab/workout in the morning every other day, at least three times a week. Since I often wake up with some back pain, I start with some back exercises. There are nine exercises I do, and some are difficult to describe, so I will suggest three that are easy to do and beneficial whether you have back problems or not.

First, kneeling face down with my legs bent and my shoulders parallel to the floor, I move my body back, so my hips are over my legs (see photo A). Doing ten repetitions (reps) for ten seconds each relaxes the back and usually feels good. Next, I roll over on my back and leaning on my shoulders with my legs bent, I raise my back and hips as shown in photo B (10 reps, 10 seconds each). That stretches and relaxes the back muscles.

After a few more exercises on the floor, I get up and put one leg on a chair or table keeping the leg stiff and pushing down on my knee with my hand (photo C). This stretches the hamstring and gives it flexibility. You will feel a little pressure; push only hard enough that you feel the stretch from your heal to your hips (10 reps, 5 or 10 seconds). Repeat with the other leg.

There are then a number of upper body exercises I do for my shoulders. The only one that is good for general shoulder fitness is to roll a large ball up and down the wall using both hands. Do 20 reps (or as many as you can) starting waist high and rolling it up as far as you can reach and back down (photo D).

For your legs, one of the best exercises I know of is the wall lean (photo E). Place your feet approximately as far away from the wall as the distance from your hips to your knees. Then slide your back down the wall until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Hold that position for 30 seconds to start out. If you do this exercise every week, you will find that you can hold this position for longer times. I try for 90 seconds to two minutes. Walking, of course, is also great exercise for your legs.

As you feel better and stronger, you might like to find other exercises on the Internet or ask your doctor for suggestions appropriate for your age and fitness level. There are also many exercises you can do with resistance straps and weights, but you will have to decide what is right for you.

I find that most of my typical muscle and joint pain goes away when I do these exercises. I feel good all day and even sleep better. I hope you will, too.



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