The main focus of exercise with the elderly is maintenance. It is important for the elderly to maintain appropriate physical levels for as long as possible. It’s essential for even the most basic tasks, such as showering, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. Think of how vital each one of those is to everyday life.
There are several types of training that an elderly person can do at home to help maintain what fitness level they currently have. The first and most important is stretching, then balance training and strengthening.
It is important to be sure to stretch at least once for each major joint. Keep the stretches simple with easy, slow movements. Each stretch should be held for at least 15 seconds and performed three times.
For the upper body, stretch the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, chest, and back. On the lower body, the hips, knees, ankles, and toes need stretching. Both sides of the body should be stretched to get the maximum benefit and to maintain equality.
Balance Training for the Elderly
Balance training should be kept simple. The only way to improve balance is to challenge it. This type of training is best accomplished by progressively increasing the challenge.
Here is an example balance training exercise for the elderly:
- Begin the balance training by standing on both legs with eyes open, using a countertop or doorway for support if needed.
- Stand on one leg and time how long that position can be held with eyes open.
- Repeat the same exercise, but this time keep eyes closed.
Light weights with high repetitions are the key when exercising with the elderly. This type of strengthening routine builds stamina and endurance and prevents muscle atrophy, which is essential in day-to-day activities. Aquatic exercising is a good alternative for elderly individuals who cannot stand for long periods or for those who have arthritic problems.
Whether they are done all together or individually, these basic types of exercises can aid in maintaining fitness and agility levels. Doing these won’t have anyone running their first 10 K on their 90th birthday, but it may make the difference in whether or not getting to the bathroom without help is a possibility.
Maintaining and improving upon existing physical capabilities and setting the steps to prevent future loss of mobility is the goal in exercise with the elderly.