Inclement weather got you stuck inside? That’s no excuse! These easy exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home.
We’re not telling you anything new when we say that exercise is good for you – no matter your age – and that you should make it a part of your daily routine. Countless studies have detailed the benefits, from the psychological to the physical. Here’s a quick glance:
- Exercise improves immune function, and can help prevent heart disease and diabetes.
- It improves strength, coordination and balance, reducing the risk of falls – which hamper our ability to perform everyday tasks, especially for older adults.
- Physical activity releases endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormone), which makes us happier and more positive and can lead to a better night’s sleep.
- Regular exercise hones our fine motor skills and improves cognitive function. Studies suggest this reduces the risk of dementia, no matter the age at which we start getting physical.
The hardest part about regular exercise is making it regular. While we may be creatures of habit, it’s getting into the routine that proves the greatest obstacle. There are numerous reasons for this. Firstly, it can be daunting. We think of exercise, and images of fit, lean people running ‘The Tan” pop into our heads, or gym members lifting weights the size of small cars. In order to get the benefits of regular exercise, none of that is necessary. The exercises we describe can be done within your home, they’re simple and require no specialised equipment.
Secondly, we think of exercise, and we think of the outdoors. Unfortunately, this means we’re reliant on sunny weather, which (especially in Melbourne) means we’re going to be frequently disappointed. Fortunately, our homes provide the perfect place to get all the exercise we need, and maintain the routines our minds and bodies thrive on.
So, put on an audio book, or stream your favourite Netflix show, and get physical.
Here’s 5 brilliant at-home exercises for seniors:
These are great for strengthening your legs and core, which makes it easier to use stairs and get in and out of cars. Stand in front of a chair, push your hips back towards the chair and bend your knees, keeping your chest and shoulders upright. Pause just above the chair (or sit down for a moment) and then stand upright. Start slowly – your strength will build over time and you can increase the repetitions.
Wall push ups
These are great for your upper body, particularly the chest and arms, and will make carrying things like grocery bags a whole lot easier. Stand in front of a wall, about two feet away, and place your hands against it at shoulder height. Keeping your body straight, bend at the elbows and lean towards the wall, and then straighten your arms and push back into an upright position.
Stand up straight and hold on to the back of a chair. Bend one knee, bringing your foot towards your buttocks. Slowly lower your foot back to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
Another balance exercise, which is great for strengthening your calves. Grip the back of a sturdy chair with both hands and rise up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the ground, and then slowly lower your heels back to the floor. Repeat.
This one is aimed at the shoulders and arms, and is done from a seated position, great for those with reduced mobility. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Hold your hands at shoulder height, palms outwards, and lift them over your head until they’re almost fully extended, then lower them slowly back to shoulder height. Try to do this ten times. As it gets easier, add some weight by holding something like food tins, or using resistance bands.
Like all exercise, you should ease yourself into it, and make sure your doctor gives the tick of approval. The goal is to set up good habits. Be guided by your own ability and do as much activity as you feel is moderate for you. For example, you may finish the exercises and still feel like you could do more; that’s fine, you don’t have to push yourself to the limit. Your heart rate may elevate slightly and you might feel tired but not exhausted. It doesn’t have to be hard to have a beneficial effect. As long as you do a little every day, you’ll feel the benefits in no time.