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Exercises for the Elderly

Bidisha Mukherjee Sep 27, 2018
Regular exercising is important for the elderly in order to stay fit and to strengthen the muscles of the body. Here are some simple stretching exercises for the elderly.
There are a wide variety of workouts for the aged people. Many of them avoid exercising due to the fear of getting hurt or going through pain. However, the fact is that if a regular exercise program is maintained, it will not only help them get rid of age-related health problems but also enhance the flexibility of their body.
There are a few balance exercises which improve the body balance and coordination. One such simple exercise involves just trying to get up from the sitting position without using any support and also without leaning the body on any side for support.
All the workouts that have been discussed in this section can be carried out by sitting in one place on an armchair or a park bench.

Chair Exercises

Chair exercises are those which can be done by sitting on a simple straight back chair. It is particularly useful for those who find it difficult to move the body. It is also suitable for those aged people who still have active body movements.

Gentle Exercises

  • These drills involve simple, light movements of the hands, legs, fingers, toes, etc. Let us start with the hands. Simply open and close the hands as quickly as possible.
  • While opening them, try to stretch the fingers as much as you can, and when you close them, keep the fist really very tight.
  • Continue opening and closing the hands for around 10 times.
  • Afterwards, the wrist muscles become slightly taut. So, you should relax them by shaking both your hands together. Shake them the way you would if you wanted to dry your wet hands.
  • Next, do some feet movements in a sitting position. Raise both your feet together above the ground up to a few inches, and then, move your toes in any random direction. Move your feet back to the ground as soon as you find it uncomfortable to keep it in the raised position.
  • Another exercise for the leg is to lift both the legs as much as you can. Stop lifting them the moment you feel that your knee joints have locked up. Bring your legs down. Repeat the process for around 5 - 6 times. Do not overstretch yourself. Stop the moment you are not feeling fine.

Mobility Exercises

  • Raise your feet slightly above the ground and stretch your legs in the front, and then, try to point the toes in the forward direction first. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Next, keeping your legs still raised, point the toes in the upward direction. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then, put your feet back on the ground and relax. 
  • This exercise stretches the legs muscles very well. Squeezing the knees, while keeping them together, will help in stretching the muscles of the upper legs.
  • Join your palms and bring your hands close to the chest. Gradually, lift your elbows and push the hands as hard as you can, and hold the position for around 10 seconds.
  • You will feel the tension building up in the muscles of your arms, shoulders, and chest. This type of exercise is helpful in stretching the entire upper portion of the body.

Back Exercises

The backbone is a very delicate area of the body. Therefore, you have to be very careful while doing any back exercises. These drills mainly involve the head and neck. Perform all the movements in a very slow and gentle manner. Do not try any movements that are difficult for you to execute. 
Sit straight on the chair, and slowly bend your head in the forward direction so that your chin touches the chest. Hold your head in that position for a few seconds, and then, get back to the original position.
Similarly, try to tilt your head backwards, and keep it in that position for a few seconds. Then, again gradually return to the original position. These movements help to increase the flexibility in the region between the neck and spine.
Swimming can be undertaken by those who are fit and enjoy a perfect health condition. The exercises given here can be termed as strengthening exercises for the elderly. These are extremely light workouts that can be easily performed by anyone.
However, you should consult your doctor before performing them, as he/she will be in a position to give you a few other fitness tips depending on your health history. This will be extremely beneficial for you, as it will help in preventing any unforeseen injuries.
Disclaimer:  Always consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program in order to reduce the risk of injury.