Start Today: 10 Easy Exercises to Add to your Daily Routine

Maintaining your physical health becomes more important as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity can help delay, prevent, and manage chronic diseases in addition to reducing the risk of premature death. While starting a routine of easy exercises for seniors might seem overwhelming, just 30 minutes of physical activity per day can help you stay fit and reduce the risk of developing health problems. Staying active can also help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart and manage symptoms of diseases and illnesses. A consistent exercise routine doesn’t have to require equipment, either. Physical activity can be as simple as walking to the store, exercising in your home, or trying out a new exercise video with a friend. It’s never too late to find enjoyable ways to reap the many benefits of a daily exercise routine.

Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults
Exercise doesn’t only provide physical health benefits—it can improve mental health as well. According to HelpGuide, physical activity has many benefits for older adults, even for those starting an exercise routine later in life. Here’s what you can expect to happen when exercising consistently or adopting a new physical activity routine:

Reduce the impact of chronic disease. People who exercise consistently are more likely to experience better digestive functioning, improve their blood pressure and bone density and lower their risk of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Enhance mobility, flexibility, and balance. Different exercises can help improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination—all of which reduce your risk of falling. Strength training can help manage symptoms of arthritis and other chronic conditions.
Improve the quality of sleep. Good quality sleep helps to restore energy levels, heal physical and cognitive damage and improve overall physical function. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep without interruption and wake up feeling ready for the day.
Boost mood and self-confidence. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins which act as natural mood boosters. The release of endorphins can help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety.
Improve brain function. Physical activity can help improve brain function and increase creativity. In addition, exercise can also help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline and help slow the progression of memory and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Types of Exercises
Adding variety to your workout routine can help you stay fit and reduce the risk of developing health complications. Finding a good balance between different types of exercises can help you strengthen your muscles, improve your coordination, reduce the risk of injury and decrease the time it takes you to heal if an injury were to occur. Here are a few of the most common types of exercises:

Aerobic exercise
Aerobic activities, such as walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming, help condition your heart and build your endurance. These exercises can be done at different intensities depending on your overall goals. Aerobic exercises done at a moderate intensity would increase your breathing and heart rate and may cause you to sweat. Those working at a vigorous intensity would be breathing rapidly and find it difficult to carry on a full conversation.

Muscle-strengthening
Muscle-strengthening exercises can help older adults prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density, while also working to improve overall mobility and function. When done correctly, muscle-strengthening exercises will work for all major muscle groups. These exercises include working with resistance bands, exercise machines, and free weights.

Flexibility exercise
Flexibility can help you improve overall muscle function, while also decreasing the risk of fall-related injuries. Stretching can prevent injury, lessen pain, improve posture and physical performance and increase strength. Flexibility exercises include yoga and Pilates.

Balance exercise
Engaging in exercises that improve balance can help reduce the risk of falls, which is a great risk for older adults. Tai chi and yoga can help develop balance along with adding other exercises, such as backward and sideways walking, and heel and toe walking, to your daily routine.

Easy Exercises for Seniors to Try at Home
While everyone can benefit from exercise, older adults live healthier and more independent lives when physical activity is prioritized. Older adult exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few easy exercises for seniors that can be done in the comfort of your own home without much equipment. The exercises below are designed to work the whole body, allowing you to build strength, improve balance and coordination and increase flexibility. As always, be sure to consult your healthcare provider or ask a certified personal trainer before trying anything new to your exercise routine.

Chair squat. Squats help build strength in the hips, glutes, and thighs. While standing in front of a chair, bend your knees and send the hips back and the arms straight out in front of you. Sit all the way down on the chair. As soon as you make contact with the chair, stand back up. Perform 10-12 reps.

Knee lift with a medicine ball. Hold a lightweight or medicine ball with both hands and lift it above your head. Lift the right knee while bringing the ball down to meet the knee. Lower the knee and raise the hands back up. Perform on the other side. Continue this exercise starting with 30 seconds and working your way up to one minute

Side leg lift. Stand sideways near a wall for support. Shift the weight into the right leg and lift the leg out to the side without tilting your torso. Keep your foot flexed and feet parallel. Lower the leg back down. Try 10-12 reps on each leg.

Lat pulls with a band. In a standing or seated position, hold a resistance band over your head with both hands. Create tension in the band by pulling with your hands, keeping the distance between them wider than your shoulders. Keeping the left hand in place, pull the right elbow down to the ribcage and press back up. Try 10-12 reps on each side.

Wall push-ups. Stand three feet away from a wall. Facing the wall, lean forward and place your hands flat against it, in line with your shoulders. Lower your body toward the wall and push back. Repeat 10-12 times.
Pelvic tilts. To help stretch the muscles in your back, take a deep breath and tighten your glutes. Tilt your hips slightly forward and hold for three seconds. Tilt-back and hold for another three seconds. Repeat 10-12 times.

Shoulder blade squeeze. Sitting up straight, rest your hands in your lap and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your shoulders down and hold for 3 seconds. Release and repeat.
Toe taps. While sitting in a chair, lift your toes while keeping your heels on the ground. You should be able to feel the muscles in your shin working. Repeat this 20 times.

Knee lifts. Sitting in a chair with your arms resting by your side. Contract your right leg muscles and lift your leg. Your knee and thigh should be three inches off the seat. Pause for three seconds and lower your leg. Repeat 10-12 times.
Seated rotation. Sit on a chair and hold a lightweight. Holding the weight at chest level, keep your knees and hips facing forward. Rotate your torso to the right as far as you can while contracting the muscles around your waist. Rotate back to the center and then to the left. Continue alternating sides for 12 reps.

Exercising at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we’re always looking for ways to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our residents by creating easy exercises for seniors. Our state-of-the-art exercise equipment, certified personal trainers, and excellent group exercise classes allow residents to explore new activities that can help build strength and improve balance. To learn more about these offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Yoga Benefits for Seniors

It’s no surprise that as we age, our bodies and their capabilities continue to change. We might experience illnesses more often, cognitive changes and loss of flexibility and balance. While these changes can cause disturbances in our day-to-day lives, they can also put our health and lives at risk. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults, responsible for nearly 27,000 fall deaths in seniors each year. Unfortunately, this rate is estimated to rise with the influx of baby boomers reaching retirement. While falling can cause bruising, it can also cause broken bones, head trauma and eventually lead to cognitive decline.

Can Yoga Improve Balance?

While there are many causes of falls in older adults, many falls can be attributed to a lack of balance. Research suggests that there is a connection between our ability to balance and our cognitive skills. Researchers from Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine studied this relationship by asking older adults to stand on one leg, while lifting the other in front of them, bent at the knee. The results of this study suggested that most of those who reported failing the test and who previously had no history of balance problems, had small lesions on the brain which can be a precursor to a stroke or dementia. Strengthening your balance or speaking to your doctor if you notice a change in your balance can help you address health concerns before they become a problem.

Benefits of Yoga Practice

The risk of falling dramatically increases as we age, so it’s important to do what we can to prevent falls. Focusing on exercises that improve endurance, strength, balance and flexibility not only reduce the risk of falling, but can also decrease recovery time after a fall, as well as decrease the severity of the injury. Yoga works to build all four of these skills, making it an important element of a fall prevention plan. In addition to decreasing risk of falls, yoga has a number of benefits, especially for older adults who practice consistently.

Movement
Traditional exercise, such as running and weightlifting, can become more difficult on our joints as we age. Yoga allows us to build strength and increase our heart rate without putting strain on the body. Yoga uses your body weight as resistance, and is a great way to build muscle and improve posture without damaging the body.

Flexibility
Yoga uses different forms of stretching and holding to lengthen our bodies and develop a greater range of motion. Many older adults become inactive as they age, resulting in a small range of motion, which can make it more likely to experience a fall.

Good Bone Health
Yoga can be helpful in preventing loss of bone density and can even work to build bone. This exercise involves gentle twisting and stretching which can help give relief to those who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Keeping Your Mind Sharp
Exercise in general releases endorphins, which can positively affect our mood. Similarly, the practice of yoga allows our bodies to function better, relieve stress and help us feel in control.

Balance and Stability
By strengthening the core muscles, yoga can help improve one’s balance, ultimately decreasing the likelihood of falling. Not only can yoga help prevent falling, the endurance and strength that comes with it can also help seniors recover more quickly if a fall were to occur.

Improves Respiration
Focused breathing is a major element of each yoga movement. Those who practice consistently might notice an improvement in their respiratory system.
Relieves Anxiety
Yoga is known to reduce stress and anxiety through its repetitive motions, focus on breath and slow movements. When you maintain a consistent practice, yoga also has the ability to reduce inflammation in the body.

Holly Foss, Fitness Director at Maplewood at Brewster, spoke to us about the positive impact her yoga classes have had on residents, especially those receiving memory care, “I have been brought to tears many times from witnessing the calming effects yoga has on even those residents with the most advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. My class provides a safe, calming space where they can take a break and relax their brains. It truly is amazing to witness.”

“You can actually feel the energy in the room shift a few minutes into the class. Residents who have a hard time focusing and following direction, are making eye contact, maintaining focus and following every movement. Seeing our residents regain confidence and pride in themselves makes everything I do worthwhile,” said Holly.

No matter what their fitness level is, Maplewood Senior Living helps all our residents begin or maintain some form of exercise. There are many classes for beginners such as yoga, water aerobics, body and balance, joint ease and fit for life. Often it is about getting residents to turn their brain off for a while and focus on their bodies instead. Sometimes, we turn down the lights, use a lavender scent to calm them, light a candle, add relaxing music and even adjust our voice. The residents really look forward to this time to unwind.

How to Do Yoga Poses Correctly

In order to strengthen our balance, it’s important to focus on yoga poses that require you to transition from one move to the next. Maintaining a consistent practice will allow you to build the strength and endurance that can protect you from falling. In partnership with the University of Miami, the Yoga Journal published a series of yoga poses that will help you build balance and strength.

Mountain Pose– Begin in a standing position with your feet parallel and close together. Slightly bend your knees and contract your abdominal muscles to draw the ribs in while stretching your hands out to the side.
Chair Pose– Starting from the Mountain Pose, bend your knees over your ankles, pull your abdominal muscles in and reach your arms above your head.
Tree Pose– From Chair Pose, slightly bend the right knee and place the right foot either above or below the inside of the left knee. If you feel unsteady, hold onto the wall or chair. Repeat on the other side.
Standing Pigeon– Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift your left foot over your right knee. Sit back into a single-chair pose while keeping your foot flexed. Lower as much as you can, while holding onto a sturdy chair if needed.

Stay Healthy and Active at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how detrimental falling can be to one’s health. That’s why we offer exercise and lifestyle classes to help prevent falls and related injuries. If you’re interested in hearing about our services, or want to schedule a tour, please don’t hesitate to contact us.