Recently, many people experienced long periods of time at home, making it a challenge to remain as active as they normally like to be. This difference in routines was most keenly felt by older adults and individuals with mobility issues. Despite not being able to go out to the gym or attend their favorite group exercise classes, many seniors found creative ways to stay active using everyday equipment and materials around them.
Statistics show that finding ways to make exercise and strength-building fun becomes increasingly important as we age. In fact, between the ages of 50-70, older adults can lose up to 30% of their muscle mass. Significant research shows that older adults who stop exercising quickly begin to lose crucial muscle mass, strength, and endurance.
Fortunately, senior living communities, like those managed by The Goodman Group, offer opportunities for individuals to stay healthy and active well into their later years. From programs like FIT Functional Fitness® to individualized support from our professional team members, we help our residents stay active during lockdown, bad weather, and more.
Katie W., national director of life enrichment at The Goodman Group, understands the importance of making exercise fun. Here are a few of her favorite tips on how all seniors can remain fit while staying indoors.
Simple Exercises to do at Home
Walking - Daily walking can have a big impact on senior health. Katie recommends walking around your house if it's too cold or hot outdoors. Going up and down the stairs is even better if you’re able. "Walking on a level surface will not get your heart rate up," she says. "But if you go up and down the stairs, even at a slow pace, it will give you that increased cardiovascular fitness." But not every walk needs to be formal exercise. Even walking around the room while you're on the phone or watching your favorite television program can make sure that you are moving on a regular basis.
Upper-body strengthening - Sometimes common household items are all you need to exercise. For example, you might use soup cans or water bottles as hand weights. Simply hold the object in each hand, curl them upward toward your body, and alternate your arms. This will engage your biceps and triceps.
Lower-body strengthening - Wall sits or squats are great senior exercises because they require only a wall, but are phenomenal for building lower body strength. Simply stand with your back against the wall and lower your body downwards as though you are sitting down on a chair. Maintain your balance by engaging your core and leaning back against the wall, not forward.
Stretching - Stretching comes in a variety of forms, and all of them are great for maintaining flexibility and wellness. Chair yoga, for example, offers the extensive benefits of traditional yoga all while seated in a regular kitchen chair or armchair, making it an accessible option for individuals who experience discomfort while getting up and down off the floor. Tai chi is another popular form of stretching, with slow, graceful movements that focus on strengthening the body and mind.
Utilizing Virtual Resources
Katie says many TV stations, such as PBS, broadcast exercise programs geared toward seniors both through cable networks and online. In fact, there are many apps and online resources that can guide you through simple movements to maintain flexibility and strength. Organizations such as the National Council on Aging and the New York Times have assembled lots of quality resources and recommendations for utilizing online fitness programs.
Although these opportunities were new to some older adults, seniors are one of the fastest-growing demographics seeking information, entertainment, and exercise resources online.
Maintain Motivation by Keeping it Enjoyable
It can be easy to maintain good health year-round if you practice a variety of exercises to keep it fun. Try an aerobics video Monday, thirty minutes of yoga exercise on Wednesday, and maybe a walk around the neighborhood with a friend on Saturday (if it's safe to do so).
Maintaining motivation is key. If you're not sure you can stick to your workout regimen alone, find a fitness friend (even if you’re just seeing each other virtually). "Friends that exercise with you are very valuable," Katie says. Exercising with a friend is a great way to hold each other accountable – it's more difficult to skip your workout if it means skipping your commitment with a friend – and it's also just more fun together.