Staying active through the years supports general wellness, strength, balance and mobility. At Falcons Landing, we support mobility for seniors through all levels of care, from Independent Living to Skilled Care. To that end, we provide a number of amenities and activities, including walking clubs, fitness classes, a pool and a fitness center. In our Skilled Nursing community, physical therapists sneak in daily mobility moves.
Older adults who take pride in their active lifestyles can also work on mobility on their own. Here are five simple senior exercises you can try at home.
Side bends can increase your flexibility and improve your balance. Here's how to do them:
1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
2. Place one hand on your hip and hold the other over your head, pointing in the direction you're going to bend.
3. Bend slowly sideways as far as you can.
4. Return to an upright position.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 several times.
6. Switch your arm positions and bend in the other direction.
Alternative for limited mobility: You can do a similar motion while seated in a comfortable chair. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Stretch one arm out to the side and place your other hand behind your head. Lean to the side as far as you can do so comfortably and safely. Switch your arms and bend in the other direction.
Yoga is a versatile exercise that can support mobility for seniors. Many poses use gentle stretching and promote core strength and balance. One easy beginner yoga move is the tree pose, which helps with your stability and balance. Here's how to do it:
1. Bend your knees slightly while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Turn the toes of one foot outward slightly.
3. Lift the heel of that foot and gain your balance with the foot that is still on the floor.
4. Bend your knee on that leg out to the side, raising your foot and placing the sole of your foot against the other leg.
5. Clasp your hands and extend them over your head.
6. Hold the position and breathe for as long as you can hold the pose.
7. Repeat on the other side.
In the full pose, the foot typically rests against the inner thigh of the other leg. However, when you're beginning, start with a lower position that feels comfortable and allows you to safely maintain your balance. Gradually work up toward a higher position for your foot.
Alternative for limited mobility: You can do many yoga poses in a seated position. For the tree pose, sit up tall with both feet firmly on the floor. Raise one foot and place it against the other while you're sitting. Raise your hands over your head. You can also rest your foot over the other knee to create a similar position. If you want to do the move standing but need a little support, hold onto the back of a chair while you do the move.
By marching in place, you're getting your joints moving, raising your heart rate and working on balance. Start by slowly raising one knee upward as far as you can. Keep the movement controlled. Return it to the floor and raise the other knee. Continue alternating knees to create a marching motion. You can also do foot taps where you raise a foot, tap it on a step and lower it back to the floor.
Alternative for limited mobility: If you need a little extra support, hold onto a counter or the back of a chair while you march. Another option is doing a marching motion while seated. Raise one knee at a time as high as you can while sitting. Alternate knees as you would if you were standing up.
Squats work well as senior exercises because you can control how far down you squat. They engage your core muscles and can help improve balance. With your feet about hip-width apart, bend your knees as you push your hips backward as low as you can go safely. Raise yourself back up and repeat.
Alternative for limited mobility: If you don't feel confident squatting without support, stand in front of a chair. Bend your knees in a squat-like motion as if you're lowering yourself into the chair to sit. Just let yourself touch the chair lightly before standing back up.
If this option isn't possible, start in a seated position. Raise yourself off the seat as much as possible, even if you can't stand all the way up. You can also do this exercise with the help of someone else who can assist you in standing.
For upper-body strength, push-ups are a classic option. They engage your arm, chest and core muscles and help strengthen your wrists and shoulders. If you can't do a traditional push-up, do the move from your knees to put less pressure on your arms.
Alternative for limited mobility: If you have a difficult time getting down on the floor, place your hands against a wall while standing about an arm's length away. Bend your elbows to do wall push-ups. You can also do them in a seated position on a sturdy bench. Put your palms against the bench and push to raise your body slightly off the bench.
If you're interested in a senior living community that makes it easy to stay active, Falcons Landing could be a good fit. Contact us to schedule a visit or call 703-404-5100.