5 Senior Workouts to Improve Balance and Strength
There are many aspects of your health and wellness you might be viewing differently now than you did when you were younger. For example, your exercise habits may be motivated less by body weight and appearance than by mobility and stability.
“Falls account for 95% of hip fractures, which can be devastating to a senior’s physical and mental wellness,” says Brogan Lackey, fitness specialist at Residences at Wellpoint. “Starting an exercise program that strengthens your body’s largest muscle groups helps prevent these sorts of falls and injuries.”
Some of these workouts are easy, at-home exercises, while others may be better learned at a fitness class. Whatever is most convenient and enjoyable for you can be your entry point. Keep reading for physical activities you can incorporate into your routine.
At-Home Balance and Strengths Moves
Here are some simple strength and balance exercises for seniors:
Squats: These are great exercises to strengthen your hips, thighs and buttocks. Building up these muscles will make it easier to walk, jog and climb stairs.
Toe Raises: This exercise pays off in dividends. It strengthens your lower leg muscles, supports mobility, and increases your blood flow. The strength gains achieved with toe raises affect your ankle dorsiflexion muscles, which can prevent injury to your knees and ankles.
Wall Push-ups: Wall push-ups are completed in a standing posture and help strengthen your shoulders, arms and core muscles. With this exercise, you are building up the strength you need to catch a fall if you ever experience one. This can reduce the chance of serious injury.
Back Leg Raises: Issues with mobility often are caused by weakness in gluteal and buttocks muscles. To make up for the natural muscle loss in these areas after age 65, perform some back leg raises. They help with stability and coordination.
Tightrope Walk: The tightrope walk is completed on the floor across a straight line. This exercise strengthens calf and shin muscles, increases your ability to balance, and supports you while walking.
By choosing either individual sets or circuit training, you can create your own exercise program.
- Individual sets are when you do one exercise at a time. It is recommended to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, resting briefly between sets,and then move to the next exercise.
- Circuit training is when you circle through a group of exercises, doing one exercise after another. You then start from the top after you’ve completed each circuit. Some experts recommend completing 3 circuits for optimal results.
Yoga or Chair Yoga
Yoga is a fantastic way to increase flexibility and stability. It challenges your balance, improves your posture, and strengthens your muscles. Yoga also offers many modified poses if you have limited mobility. Some practitioners will start with modified poses and slowly work up to the more advanced poses.
Yoga has numerous other health benefits, including improvements in:
- Sleep patterns
- Blood pressure
- Glucose levels
- Joint health
- Mental health
Swimming and Water Aerobics
One study suggests that seniors who swim are one-third less likely to suffer a fall than those who do not. Swimming increases muscle strength, improves flexibility, and has a positive effect on postural sway, a measure of standing balance. Together, these benefits strengthen the stability of your daily movements.
Senior living communities like Residences at Wellpoint usually have a pool to work out in and water aerobics classes. These provide low-impact balance exercises that strengthen every major muscle group in the body.
Tai chi is a gentle form of exercise that’s easy on your joints and relaxing for your mind. It consists of slow and deliberate movements that improve your balance and concentration. Some practitioners report that it encourages a meditative state that is beneficial for their mental well-being. The exercises in tai chi are focused on your legs, shoulders and core muscles, but involve your entire body.
A tai chi class will consist of three parts:
- Warmup: Easy movements like shoulder rolls or rocking back and forth get your body moving and loosen up your joints and muscles.
- Instruction and Practice of Forms: Forms are sets of movement. Short forms may include a dozen movements, while long forms may incorporate hundreds.
- Qigong: Translated as “breath work” or “energy work,” this might involve a few minutes of breathing exercises combined with gentle motion.
Tai chi is more than just an exercise. It is also an effective therapy – in conjunction with standard medical treatments – that can prevent and treat symptoms of conditions associated with aging.
Pilates is often characterized as a core-focused workout, but it actually activates your whole body. Its particular emphasis on breath and the stabilization of smaller muscles corrects imbalances and aligns the body.
One concern you might have as you age is the possibility of developing osteoporosis. This disease that weakens bone density can be particularly risky in the case of a fall. To prevent the onset of osteoporosis, experts recommend weight-bearing exercises like many Pilates exercises.
Pilates is believed to help with:
- Bone density
- Balance and gait
- Back pain
Stay Fit at Residences at Wellpoint:
Residences at Wellpoint is a senior living community in Huntsville, Alabama, that is dedicated to your continued health. Our fitness specialist, Brogan Lackey, is driven by her goal to help older adults improve functional strength and balance so they can maintain independence. Contact us today to meet Brogan and tour our Fitness Studio and pool.