Exercises for Older Adults to Safely Do at Home and Ones to Avoid

A smiling elderly woman doing floor exercises at her home with free weights.

Exercising is an important part of staying healthy and fit, no matter your age. As you get older, however, certain types of exercise can become challenging or even dangerous. That doesn’t mean you have to give up physical activity completely, though. In fact, there are plenty of safe exercises for older adults to do at home.

Strength-Building Exercises

Strength-building exercises are particularly important for aging adults. Strong muscles help maintain balance, reduce the risk of falls, and improve overall fitness. Simple strength-training exercises like wall push-ups and chair squats are easy to do at home. Wall push-ups involve standing a few feet away from a wall and pushing against it with your hands. Chair squats involve sitting on a chair, standing up, and then sitting down again. Both of these exercises can be done at your own pace and adjusted to your current strength level.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are also important for older adults. Stretching keeps muscles flexible and helps prevent injury. Simple stretches like arm circles, toe touches, and neck rolls can be done anywhere, including at home. Arm circles involve raising your arms and making circles with them. Toe touches involve standing straight up and reaching down to touch your toes. Neck rolls involve sitting up straight and gently rolling your neck from side to side.

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises are especially important for older adults. Good balance helps reduce the risk of falls and can improve overall fitness. Simple balance exercises like heel-to-toe walking, single-leg stands, and side-stepping can be done at home. Heel-to-toe walking involves walking in a straight line, one foot in front of the other, so that the heel of one foot touches the toes of the other. Single-leg stands involve standing on one leg for a few seconds. Side-stepping involves standing in one spot and stepping side to side.

Moderate Aerobic Exercises

Moderate aerobic exercise is also beneficial for older adults. Walking is a great way to get your heart rate up. If you have access to a treadmill or elliptical, that’s a great way to get some exercise at home. If not, you can always go for a walk around the block or in your neighborhood. Swimming is another great way to get some aerobic exercise at home. If you have access to a pool, you can swim laps or just do some water aerobics.

Exercises to Avoid

·        High-Impact Exercises: These types of exercises should be avoided by aging adults because they can put strain on the joints, which can make them more susceptible to injury. The movements involved in high-impact exercises can cause joint inflammation, which can cause pain and discomfort. In addition, high-impact exercises can cause the muscles to become overworked and can lead to fatigue, which can be dangerous for aging adults.

·        Some Types of Yoga: While stretching and flexibility is encouraged for aging adults, some types of yoga can be difficult for them to perform safely, as it involves technique, balance, and strength. Many yoga poses require the practitioner to be able to twist and bend in difficult ways, which can be difficult for aging adults to do safely. Furthermore, a lack of balance can cause aging individuals to become unsteady, which can lead to falls and injuries. Exercises that require balance should also be avoided by seniors, as these can be difficult to do safely.

·        Heavy Weight-Lifting Exercises: Aging adults should avoid any exercises that involve heavy weights, such as weightlifting. This type of exercise can put strain on the muscles and joints, and can cause injuries if form and technique are not precise.

Finally, it is important to remember that any exercise program should be tailored to your specific capabilities and desired outcomes. With some determination and a little motivation, older adults can safely exercise at home and improve their quality of life.

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