Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 23rd of June 2020.
Exercise is extremely important to us all, but especially as we age as it helps to maintain a healthy metabolism and maintain mobility levels. Not only does exercise have a multitude of physical health benefits but it also provides many benefits in terms of mental wellbeing; from improving mood to reducing stress. As we age, we do need to be a little gentler and be careful to avoid injury especially for those who aren’t used to vigorous exercise.
Given the current global situation, exercising outside of the home is not advisable for the elderly. However, luckily there are plenty of indoor exercise activities which are perfect for improving physical health, mental wellbeing and mobility.
Dancing is a really fun way to introduce a little more activity and exercise into your life. It is a great activity as it doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise, but it is great for improving strength and muscle function whilst engaging in something which is fun and can boost mood massively. This is a great activity for those living with dementia as you can choose a person’s favourite music; this way not only do they get some fun exercise in but also it can spark memories and conversations.
2. Seated Exercise
For some, full mobility may be an issue however this does not mean exercise should be avoided all together. There are a variety of exercises which can be done from a seated position. Many arm exercises and stretches can be performed from a seat, whereas some leg exercises such as leg curls and hip abductions can also be performed whilst seated. These are great exercises for low impact activities which still keep you as mobile as possible.
Yoga is a brilliant practice for people of all ages and there are so many difficulty levels that everyone can participate. There are plenty of yoga classes specifically aimed at the elderly which can be found online. Alternatively, pick some of the favourite positions and do a short routine of your own. The best positions will likely be ones which are not too strenuous whilst still allowing a good amount of stretching, engaging core muscles and those with plenty of breathing exercises. Yoga is great for mobility as well as physical and mental health. It reduces stress and agitation; make sure to only attempt what is achievable.
4. Balance Exercises
Practicing balance exercises is great for seniors as it can help prevent accidents such as falls. There are a variety of balance exercises which you can do at home, indoors such as a single foot stand where you place one hand on a chair or stable surface, grab the toes of one leg with the other leg and bend the knee to perform a Quad stretch. As you progress you can aim to stop holding the chair and balance for as long as possible. It is important to have a safe space set up for this and that support is provided where needed.
Whilst going for walks outdoors is currently not as easy as it once was, or may not be possible due to mobility concerns, you can still walk indoors. First of all, simply making an effort to walk more around the house is great; simply getting up from a seat to walk around can help maintain function and mobility. Alternatively, there are a range of walking videos on YouTube which incorporate walking in place with other cardio exercises.
With exercise having so many benefits, not just for the elderly but also for those living with dementia, it is essential to include some activity throughout each day no matter how small. Mixing and matching different exercises is a great way to stay interested or even perform as a group in a care home setting. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving mood and mobility, there are so many excellent benefits to staying active.
Remember to consult a doctor before attempting different exercises and make sure they are suitable and achievable for each individual.