Friday, March 9, 2018

Exercises for Seniors

The benefits of regular activity and a healthy weight are no secret. Still, today chronic disease is more prevalent than ever. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, leading to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year. Physical inactivity and obesity have been linked to a wide variety of preventable diseases including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease, and osteoporosis. Physically, persons who struggle with weight and inactivity in adult life are more likely to suffer from decreased skeletal muscle, poor balance and mobility, stiffness and pain. And psychologically, studies suggest there exists a strong correlation between lack of regular exercise and depression as well as mental decline.
As a modern society, we've come to expect many of these ailments and consider them a part of normal aging. However, the human genome didn't evolve within sedentary conditions and much of how we relate to aging today is simply the product of our 20th century lifestyles. Whether you're already one of the millions of active seniors who lead an active lifestyle or you're someone who's ready to turn the page to a new chapter in life, we hope that this post inspires you with new ideas.

Your healthful and active journey through your 60s, 70s and beyond can start anywhere. If you're currently not stretching or exercising at all, start with five to ten minutes a day at first. If you're already a regular walker, consider also incorporating strength and balancing exercises to your routine.

These exercises are designed to lead you to a healthier heart, stronger bones and improved flexibility, mobility and balance.


Stretching exercises are designed to develop flexibility in muscles and tendons. As we age, flexibility naturally tends to decrease, however, regular stretching will keep you more limber and more mobile longer.

Anyone can stretch, whether you're extremely mobile or less so. Start by stretching the neck, tilting your head first to one side and then the other. Relax as your stretch, and hold these positions for 30 seconds or longer. The stretch should not be painful.

Everything in your body is connected. When you stretch, start at the top and work your way downward.

Slowly stretch the neck using a side-to-side, font-to-back and circular motion.

Stretch your arms and shoulders by raising your hands upward and maintaining a reaching motion for at least 30 seconds. Then allow your arms to fall behind your head. Try to reach the middle of your back between your shoulder blades. Hold this pose on each side for 30 seconds or more.

Your back consists of various large and small muscles. Additionally, the back contains a large portion of connective tissue called the fascia. Stretching is just one important part of maintaining mobility and preventing back pain. A simple stretch can be done while laying down and bringing your knees to your chest. When holding this position, focus on your breath. It should be deep and regular.

Stretching your hips provides increased flexibility and range of motion. A regular hip stretch provides better hip and leg movement, better posture and reduced hip pain. Hip stretches can be done entirely on the ground with one leg bent in front of you and one leg behind you, or in a semi-standing position by going into a very deep lunge. This position should never be painful, particularly for the knees. Once in the position, hold it for at least 30 seconds while breathing deeply and regularly.

The butterfly exercise stretches your thigh, groin and hip muscles. It can also relieve pain and discomfort of the lower back. This stretch works by leaning forward at the hips, not by rounding the
back. You may only need to lean a few centimetres to feel this stretch in action.

Touching your toes may not be as easy as it once was, but this stretch is an important part of maintaining mobility and a good range of motion. This stretch can be done in a seating or in a standing position. Don't worry if you aren't able to touch your toes yet. Allow yourself to relax and let gravity work in your favor. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you like to do it in a group or alone, in the morning or at night. We've only covered some of the more major points here in this blog post; stretching can involve the wrists, the ankles, the jaw and facial muscles and more. As you wake each morning and naturally stretch your body, try to be aware of which parts of your body could benefit from additional stretching exercises that day.


According to the WHO, up to 35% of seniors aged 65 and over fall each year. Regular stretching and exercise can reduce these statistics. Practice balance daily with yoga or by incorporating some basic movements into your stretches.  Balancing exercises for seniors can be as simple as an overhand stretch side-to-side or raising one leg while holding on to a chair or the back of a sofa.

More advanced balancers can incorporate the following activities:

Stand on one leg with both arms raised overhead.
Hold this position for 30 seconds or more.

Once you are comfortable standing on one leg, bend at the waist until you've achieved a flat back.
At first, you may only be able to raise your leg a small amount.

A crucial component of proper balance is your core strength. Engage your core using exercises like crunches and yoga poses such as the sitting V, also known as "boat pose" or "Paripurna Navasana".
Paripurna Navasana doesn't just engage the abs, it strengthens the hips as well. It requires you to balance on your tailbone, and can be achieved with bent or with straight knees.


Cardio (or aerobic) exercise refers to any exercise that increases your heart rate. You'll likely feel your heart beating faster while performing balancing and stretching exercises, making them partially aerobic in nature.
Cardio workouts have a variety of benefits including improved blood pressure. A healthy blood pressure has been shown to considerably reduce the incidence of heart disease.
In addition, regular exercise will help you to maintain or work toward a healthy weight. Carrying excess fat, particularly around the abdomen, has been directly linked with an increased risk for heart disease and heart attack, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Establishing a regular workout routine could mean taking a 20-minute walk once a day, casually riding a stationary bike while you watch TV, engaging in swimming or water aerobics or taking a dance class.


Improving muscle strength protects bones and joints including knees, hips and spine. Having extra muscle doesn't mean you'll be entering the next Mr. Olympia contest - it doesn't take extreme bulk to reap the benefits of muscle.
In one study involving 163 individuals in South Western Sydney over the age of 65, moderate strength training exercises showed a positive correlation between exercise and falling. Within the 12-month trial period, the rate of falls in the intervention group was 40% lower than that of the control group.
Finally, because muscles use energy for fuel - even while at rest, strength training is a much more effective weight loss strategy than aerobic exercise alone.

Use your muscles three times a week with dumbbells, resistance bands or by using your body as a weight. Incorporate exercises such as bicep curls, lateral and front raises, and overhead presses.

Try squats to work one of your most major muscle groups while also practicing balance.

Modify pushups by staying vertical and using a wall instead of the floor, or move to your knees if a regular incline pushup is too tough.


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