Exercises for Seniors with Immobility or Balance Issues
Seniors with who struggle with mobility and balance are often told to exercise to maintain their condition, but not to do things that could further weaken current abilities. How can seniors meet both goals at the same time? If you or an aging loved one struggle with immobility or balance, here are a few exercises that won’t do more harm than good:
Yoga gently stretches muscles, creates lean muscle mass and improves balance. Seniors should look for a yoga class designed for older adults or a beginning level class as opposed to one with advanced yoga enthusiasts. This will ensure the class has exercises that match your abilities and will likely be less intimidating. Additionally, seniors who need help with some of the poses can use blocks and straps to facilitate stretching. This way, you can ease into a deep stretch without causing strains or inflammation.
This meditative exercise form focuses on slow movements between positions, allowing the body to stretch, strengthen and increase balance. The focus on concentration and breathing forces you to slow down and release stress, while the flowing movements are gentle on the joints. While the many physical and mental benefits are great for seniors who struggle with immobility or balance, it is becoming more and more popular among seniors across the nation!
Water aerobics are a wonderful way to give your heart a workout. You don’t need to worry about falls or balance nearly as much when you’re in the water, and the water creates natural resistance making you work harder. Also, floating in water makes the movements very low-impact, saving the joints in your legs from a beating.
As with the benefits of water aerobics, swimming also provides a strong cardiovascular workout without the related risks of falls or balance problems. Unlike water aerobics, you will work more of the body’s core than the arms and legs, creating a different type of water workout. Many local gyms and senior centers offer swimming lessons designed for seniors and some are even held indoors so you can continue your workout as the seasons change.
Differences in Senior Exercise Programs
There are a few things you should keep in mind while developing your exercise program. First of all, you’ll want to consult with your doctor or a senior care professional if you have concerns about blood pressure, joint pain or other conditions that may limit the types of exercise you can participate in. Seniors take longer to adapt to new activity levels, typically 2-4 weeks, so don’t be afraid to start slow. Start with 5-15 minutes at a lower intensity, adding a minute each week and slowly increasing intensity as you build strength and endurance.