Both cardio and resistance exercises are vital for seniors to maintain their health and happiness. Stronger muscles and a stronger cardiovascular system offer plenty of benefits:
- Strengthens cardiovascular system
- Maintain bone density
- Strengthen muscles
- Reduce stress
- Reduces chances of various diseases: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer
- Lower risk of falls
However, you may not want to pay for a gym membership. Perhaps you prefer to work out at home.
That’s ok — there are plenty of healthy and safe exercises seniors can do to maintain and improve their health. Here are some of the best.
One of the best exercises seniors can do at home is also one of the simplest: walking. Walking can be done outside or in the home on a machine such as a treadmill. Seniors need only walk at a moderate pace for about 30 minutes per day to experience all the health benefits.
Now, seniors in better health may be able to take up jogging instead. If you jog, you only need about 1 hour and 15 minutes per week (about 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week) to reap the benefits.
2. Chair Squats
Seniors don’t need to lift heavy weights to stay in shape. In fact, that could be detrimental.
Instead, bodyweight resistance exercises like squats can do the trick. Squats are excellent for building and maintaining your leg and glute muscles. These muscles help you balance and pick things up, and strong glutes in particular can help maintain posture and reduce lower back pain. Plus, squats work your core.
If you’re not ready for full air squats, start with chair squats. Start in front of a chair, then squat down until you touch the chair, then stand back up. You can also sit down completely, then stand back up if you still need to build up that muscle base.
3. Wall Pushups
Pushups work the chest, shoulders, core, and even the back a little bit — all-important muscles in picking up objects and maintaining good posture.
If you can’t do pushups, you can start with wall pushups. Stand 2 feet (or less, if needed) away from a wall and extend your arms out in front of you. Bend your elbows as you lower yourself to the wall. Then, engage your pectoral muscles to press back to the starting position.
4. Knee Planks
Your core muscles help you stand up straight and protect your back when you pick up and carry objects — and planks are well-known for being fantastic core exercises.
However, the plank also uses a variety of upper and lower body muscles to help stabilize your body.
So in short, it works your whole body from head to toe.
If you can’t do a plank yet, you can start with knee planks. Sit on your knees, then lay down onto your forearms with your hands open and face down. Flex your abs, and keep your body straight and your head neutral. Holding for 20 seconds is a good starting point. Work up from there, and eventually, you could move on to regular planks for a new challenge.
5. Bird Dog
Lastly, the bird dog is another great exercise for the core and glutes — two of the most important muscles for minimizing back pain and injury risk.
To perform the bird dog, get on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Flex your abs and keep your back flat, then reach one hand straight in front of your and the opposite foot behind you. Hold for 3 seconds, or as long as you can balance, then return to the starting position.
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