A healthy body is as important as a healthy mind. Physical exercises contribute a lot towards achieving a healthy body. Physical exercise keeps the body fit and fills up our minds with a lot of positive energy. It helps improve mental health by giving a boost to the individual’s self-esteem, reduces chances of depression and improves the overall quality of life. In case of older adults, exercising is even more important due to the gradual decline of their health. Exercising can help them maintain a stable immune system. Many exercise recommendations are relevant for postmenopausal women. Physical exercise plays an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis and improves balance. There are a lot of exercises which can be tried by adults at their own homes without much supervision. However, it is advised that they do it only after taking advice from fully qualified professionals.
There are mainly four types of exercise for older adults as suggested by the National Institute of Aging.
- Aerobic exercises help increase heart rate and breathing (respiratory rate), which influences the functional capacity of the individuals, hence lowering the risk of diabetes and cardiac failure. Activities undertaken can be walking, swimming, biking or jogging.
- Balance exercises can help prevent accidental falls.
- Flexibility exercise can help stretch body muscles and prevent accidental muscle pulls or similar issues.
- Strength exercises will help keep or make the body muscles strong. Resistance training increases muscular strength, power and endurance in elderly. This can be achieved by doing wall press ups or mini squats.
Here we will talk about some exercises that can help improve flexibility and balance.
Neck Rotation- Turn the head to the left side and stretch it as far as possible. Maintain the position for 5 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Neck Side stretch- Pull the right shoulder down while tilting the head to the opposite side. Repeat on the other side.
Sideways Bend- Slide your right arm down the side of your leg, while bending sideways from the waist. Bend as much as you can comfortably. Slowly return to an upright position, then repeat on the left side.
Sideways walking- Stand with both legs together. Keeping the spine straight, move the right leg to the side, then move the left leg to join. Repeat, and then switch to the left side.
One leg stand- Start by standing in front of a wall. Raise your hands in front, and put your palms against the wall. Lift one leg up, bending it at the knee. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then lower it slowly. Repeat.
Step up- This is as simple as it sounds! Raise your right leg to the step, then raise your left leg to join it. Step down again. Do 5-10 reps with each leg.
These are some of the exercises that can be practiced by the older adults. It is important to start with warm-up exercises for balance, followed by aerobic exercises and then strength training. Finish the routine with exercises for flexibility. For best results, aim for 20 minutes duration, four times a week. However, it is suggested that advice from a qualified physician is taken before starting any exercises routine.