Lockdown exercises for the elderly
The UK has been under Covid-19 restrictions for nearly a year, and if you are an older adult, you might have been confined to your home for a long period of time.
These restrictions have understandably de-motivated people, and for many, this has meant exercise has been at the bottom of the list in their daily routines. This includes the elderly, who may not have as many reasons to get out of the house and stretch their legs, or who may not have as much support from family as they might have done before lockdown.
With talk of lockdown restrictions possibly easing near Easter, if you are an older adult it could be a good idea for you to start implementing a short exercise routine into your daily schedule, so you are ready for the outside world once again.
According to the NHS, adults aged, 65 and over should aim to be physically active every day for at least 10 minutes. Even if its just light activity, it's important to do activities that improve strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility.
Even if you have to do exercises from your riser recliner chair, anything is better than nothing, and your body and mind will thank you for it!
Fenetic Wellbeing has enlisted help from health and fitness professionals who have a wealth of knowledge in elderly exercise, so, continue reading for the best lockdown exercises the elderly can do at home:
Potter around the garden
Fenetic Wellbeing suggests going into your garden and making the most of your outdoor space. Gardening is a form of exercise that activates the whole body, helping to strengthen bones, muscles, and joints, while also keeping blood pressure at bay. In fact, calories. Pottering outside will also help your step count too — which a number of apps and can help you track. Being out in the fresh air can also work wonders for your , improving your mood and helping you feel more relaxed.
Feel zen with chair yoga
Chair yoga is a great way for elderly adults to be active whilst being gentle on the body. If you are an elderly person who finds themselves staying inside now more than ever, you might be more likely to feel stiff as you are not moving your body in the same way as before. Yoga will help stretch any muscles that are not getting as much use as before the pandemic, and it will also help reduce stress and improve circulation.
The great thing about chair yoga is that it is completely safe and comfortable for the elderly, as there is very little risk of injuring the body whilst sitting securely in a riser recliner chair.
Certified Yoga Therapist, Sherry Zak Morris, teaches regular energising chair yoga classes for elderly adults, and you can watch Sherry’s chair yoga video here.
Strengthen the legs
When it comes to what area of the body we should be targeting the most, Cary Raffle, personal trainer and owner of Trainer Cary, says that “Leg exercises are the most important because of the reduced activity levels and increased sitting”.
To increase movement and strength in the legs, Cary suggests a number of exercises that can be done from home, and can be supported by holding onto a chair, cabinet, or wall:
Standing Hip Abduction – This is done from a simple standing position while holding onto a chair, cabinet, or wall, and is done by moving each leg sideways for 8-12 repetitions. Squeeze the leg and don't swing.
Hip extension and Hamstring Curls – These exercises can be done in a similar position to the hip abductions, with a slight forward lean. For Hip Extension, keep the knee straight and slowly squeeze the leg up and down 8-12 times without touching the floor between repetitions. For Hamstring Curls, lift the knee and bend it so that the heel moves up towards your buttocks and back down without touching the floor between sets.
Squats - Squats are versatile and can be done in a number of ways, depending on your fitness level. The easiest is to squat in the armchair so that you can use your arms to help push you up. They are very demanding so you might only do a few at first and eventually work up to 8-12 repetitions. As you get stronger, stand up without using the arms and eventually without the chair.
Get your heart rate up with Zumba
Zumba is an exciting aerobic exercise to take part in, and it combines Latin and international music with fun dance moves. Usually, Zumba is a very high-intensity workout, that works to improve cardiovascular fitness. But it doesn’t always have to be so intense, and Darryl Higgins, the founder of the Athlete Desk, suggests that low-intensity Zumba is perfect for elderly adults who want to experience an upbeat workout routine but one that is gentle on the body.
So, if Zumba sounds like the one for you, content creator, Fitness with Cindy, creates free online workout videos for the elderly, and you can watch her Zumba cardio workout here, which promises to boost your mood!
Find your balance
Personal Trainer and owner for Fit Healthy Momma, Tami Smith, suggests that balance exercises are imperative for the elderly to practice on a daily basis.
As an elderly adult, you might be more at risk of falling and tripping over to due to loss of sensory elements and the inability to integrate information and issue motor commands. So, ensuring that you dedicate 5 minutes a day working on your balance could save you from feeling unstable.
Tami recommends a few exercises that will be sure to help with balancing issues, including, walking heel to toe and a single leg stance with arms out (whilst holding onto a wall if needed).
Keep active in our chair
Daniel Carpenter from Common Purpose Club, a personal training club in London, highlights that most exercises that people partake in at the gym, can be done at home from a chair, and can be adapted so that they are suitable for your age.
Some of the chair exercises include:
A good hip flexor and core exercise, which rarely get a workout if you’re seated for long periods. In an upright seated position, lift one foot off the floor whilst trying to keep your back nice and straight. Hold for 1-2seconds at the top and lower the foot back to the floor. Repeat on the other side. Aim for sets of 20repitions.
This is a great exercise to improve the active range of motion at the shoulder joint. In an upright seated position, place your hands by your side (or by your thighs) with thumbs pointing forwards. Keeping your arms straight lift them forwards and up towards the ceiling and above the shoulders (or as high as you can). Hold at the top for 1-2seconds and slowly lower the arms down to the starting position. Aim for sets of 10-15 repetitions.
A bit more of an advanced shoulder exercise, the angel press opens up tight chest muscles and strengthens the muscles responsible for the upward rotation of the shoulder blades. In an upright seated position, create a 90-degree angle at your armpit and elbow, with your palms facing forwards (as if you were protesting your innocence!). Imagine pressing something overhead, straightening your arms above your head (or as high as you’re able). Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Aim for sets of 10-15 repetitions.”
A nice chest opener that also strengthens the muscles between your shoulder blades. This is a great exercise to prevent or improve a rounded upper back. In an upright seated position, lift your arms up in front of you to about shoulder height. Keeping the arms straight, squeeze your palms together. Widen your arms away from each other using your upper back muscles until you get to a T position with palms facing forwards. Return to the starting position, squeezing the palms together, and repeat. Aim for sets of 10-15 repetitions.
So, whether you enjoy feeling zen with yoga, or you love to get your heart rate up with Zumba, you can still take part in your favourite exercises from the comfort of your own home, and even from your favourite armchair!
Fenetic has a wide range of chairs suitable for every taste and budget, for more information on Fenetic Wellbeing’s chair range, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.