Exercise and body movement are essential aspects of long-term health, even for aging adults who have more difficulty moving around in this phase of life. Older adults who do need some assistance with walking or moving around the house may struggle to come up with exercises they can safely do, but there are certainly some great options.
Exercise promotes blood flow, which keeps all of the major organs running as they should. It also supports better mental health because it makes the body produce endorphins, or feel good hormones. Regular body movement is preventative as well – helping limited mobility adults avoid bedsores and muscle atrophy.
Before doing any new exercises, individuals should consult with their primary care physician. Once the doctor says it is okay to do begin a fitness routine, try a few of these simple but effective chair exercises. Remaining seated to work out allows for a higher level of stability, but older adults should also make sure a home care assistant or caregiver is available for support and safety.
All of the following exercises will begin in a seated position on a chair that has arms and no rocker or swivel features. Start by sitting up straight with feet flat on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees. Do exercises in sets of 10 repetitions with 30-second breaks for 3-4 sets per session, or adjust to your own level of comfort and ability.
Seated Arm Exercises for Seniors
As people age, they need their arm muscles for fewer things. But seniors do need their arms for support when rising from a chair. Also, moving the arms helps blood flow to the heart and brain, so it’s a good idea to keep them moving!
Seated Overhead Press
Holding small hand weights, or full water bottles, position your arms in front of you at chest height with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Lift the weights up over your head so that your arms are straight and next to your ears, then bring them back to starting position.
Plant your hands on the arms of the chair and lift your body up until your arms are straight. Slowly lower yourself back down to the seated position. If you are struggling to lift your own body weight, don’t push all the way up; just go as far as you can. Keep your arms engaged for this exercise. Don’t drop back into the seat or push with your legs.
Seated Leg Exercises for Seniors
Leg movement is necessary for staying ambulatory long into advanced age. These moves will help keep blood flowing through the lower extremities and make it easier to stand up and walk throughout the day.
Seated Straight Leg Lift
Place one foot straight out so that the back of the heel rests on the floor. Lift that leg straight up until it is parallel with the floor, then slowly lower it. Do a full set on one side, then switch to the other leg. If this exercise is pretty easy, consider adding a resistance band or ankle weights.
Seated Bent Knee Lift and Kick
This move will work the core muscles as well as keep the legs moving. From the starting position, lift one leg, knee bent, up towards the chest. At the top of the move, straighten the leg as far as you can, then bend back to 90 degrees and lower the foot flat to the floor. Do a full set on one side, then switch to the other leg. Work up to the kick if that is too advanced at first, but feel free to add ankle weights if you’re ready for more.
Seated Stretches for Seniors
Stretching moves the muscles and allows them to get some light movement. Sometimes a good stretch is relaxing, or it might help you get ready to stand and walk around by getting the blood moving.
Seated Overhead Stretch
Lift your hands straight up over your head and lace your fingers together with palms facing up. Continue to reach your hands up, lengthening the spine. Gently pull your hands to the right, stretching the left side of your trunk, then slowly pull back to center, and then to the left. As you release this stretch, bring the arms slowly down and straight out to the sides.
Seated Twist Stretch
While sitting straight up, bring the left arm out in front of you, across your body, and grip the right arm of the chair with your hand. Slowly pull your upper body into a twist and hold it for a few seconds. Release the arm of the chair, and slowly turn back to center. Then bring the right arm across and repeat on the left side of the chair. Always move slowly in this stretch to avoid over-extending the back muscles.
Caregivers Offer Safety and Support for Light Exercise
The caregivers at Linda’s Care know how important it is for limited mobility seniors to keep moving in the ways they are able. Exercise is a standard activity of daily living that we enjoy helping our participants practice safely. Following all safety protocols, Linda’s Care home care assistants can support participants and their families in maintaining or improving mobility. If you or your loved one is concerned about being able to age at home because of difficulty walking, contact us to learn more about our home care services. Linda’s Care provides affordable and high-quality non-medical home care services in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Delaware County.