While staying safe at home has become our new normal, that does not mean we should spend our time sitting in front of the TV! For older adults, particularly individuals with chronic health conditions, maintaining an active lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic is a struggle that may seem insurmountable. However, research shows the benefits of exercise for seniors with chronic conditions and the many great health benefits it provides, such as:
- Builds independence
- Reduces the risk of falls and subsequent fractures
- Reduces blood pressure levels
- Increases strength and stamina
- Eases depression and anxiety
- Encourages healthy muscles, bones, and joints
- Helps control swelling and pain linked to arthritis
- And much more
In spite of the various advantages of exercise, a large portion of older adults – 67% of them, per another recent research study – are spending the majority of their day on sedentary activities, and by age 75, 1/3 of most males and ½ of all women report engaging in no exercise of any kind. A sedentary lifestyle can be particularly detrimental to seniors with chronic health issues, as it can exacerbate many of the symptoms associated with heart disease, depression, arthritis, and more.
At Absolute Companion Care, we love helping seniors get back into a healthier, more energetic lifestyle. Sometimes, having someone to exercise with regularly can make a huge difference in making exercise a routine that seniors look forward to.
We recommend creating a playlist of the older adult’s favorite upbeat music, setting a designated time each day for working out so that it becomes a habit, and making it fun! Below are a few simple exercises you can try together with the older adults you love, right in the comfort of home:
- Sit and stand: Simply stand about 6” in front of a solid chair, with feet placed in line with the hips and arms held straight out in front. Slowly bend the knees and sit down in the chair. Rest for a moment, and then press with the upper 2/3 of the feet to resume a standing position. Repeat ten times, twice per day. If possible, the exercise can be intensified by removing the chair and lowering into a squat (while holding onto a heavy-duty piece of furniture).
- Balance stance: Stand with feet together, and while holding onto a sturdy chair or piece of furniture for balance, place one foot directly in front of the other, heel to toe, keeping the feet in a straight line as though walking on a tightrope or balance beam. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch feet. To help make the exercise a little bit more challenging, try without holding onto the chair for support, and eventually, add in small hand weights.
- Farmer’s walk: Stand with feet in line with the hips, and a small weight in each hand, with arms held down to the sides and palms facing the body. With head lifted and spine straight, walk for 30 seconds, or as long as possible, and then turn and go the opposite way. More weight can be added to intensify the exercise, that will also help strengthen the hands.
Remember to always check with the senior’s doctor prior to starting or changing any workout routine.
Reach out to our professional aging care team for more exercise recommendations and resources, as well as for a companion to make health and fitness more enjoyable! Feel free to call us any time at 410-357-9640 to learn more about our professional dementia care in Towson, MD and the surrounding communities.