Life gets hectic. Nowadays with our insane schedules, stress has become a common emotion that we all feel at a continuous rate. We live in a busy and distracting world where we are constantly getting notified and updated with unnecessary information. People are constantly in a hurry and there never seems to be enough time.
The worst part is that setting aside a time for ourselves has become some kind of unattainable luxury. We neglect the importance of taking the time to be present and still. Although there is a ton of research supporting the benefits of meditation, truly dedicating ourselves to the practice is nearly impossible. It’s hard to break away from the distractions and settle our minds in the little that time we have.
The concept of meditation seems easy enough, but vague. You just need to be focused and calm and allow your mind to become clear. The actual practice, however, is not so simple despite its focus on simplicity. Our brains are wired to be constantly on the go, jumping from task to task. The art of being mindful and present requires a high level of self-discipline. Something that many people think they just don’t have the time to accomplish.
You don’t have time to be stressed
Although we think that we don’t have the time to be mindful and present, what we really don’t have the time for is the issues that come along with stress.
When you are experiencing stress, that is your body transitioning into “fight or flight mode”. This causes your heart rate to increase, your pupils to dilate, all of your senses are heightened, and blood is drained away from the digestive tract and pumped into your muscles and limbs. Everything around you is perceived as a threat.
When our nerves are constantly on the age, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and will cause the body to age more quickly. If that last fact doesn’t snap you to attention, I don’t know what else will. Stress is literally stealing your youth.
Heightened stress responses will ultimately lead to depression which just opens up a whole other ugly can of worms. This may cause you to socially withdrawal, taking a toll on your relationships and ability to maintain them.
When it all gets to be too much, you may act rashly and make wrong decisions purely out of frustration. Lessening your load is important, but you don’t want to act impulsively just to get something off of your plate. That just creates another mess.
Now you can relax and let Calm the App work it’s magic
The convenient mediation app that you can always have at your disposal despite your hectic schedule. Like many meditative apps, it provides you with calming music and natural sound effects. But that’s not all! The unique feature that makes this a must-have item is the instructed meditation courses that you can use anywhere, anytime.
Many of us lack the ability to sit still and zone out. With the aid of an instructor, you’ll know where to guide your thoughts so you can maintain your focus.
No wonder Calm is the most popular mediation app used worldwide
There are a variety of courses and features to choose from to fit your needs and schedule.
Just pick your course, select the length of your session, and relax.
Seniors are living longer than ever. But longer isn’t always better. If you want your parents (and yourself) to live healthier, happier and more independently as they age, try introducing these proven exercises into their weekly routine.
I’ve selected 15 exercises focused on improving seniors’ balance, strength, flexibility and cardio. Because no matter the age or conditioning, research has shown that these exercises help seniors avoid falls and disease while staying active, mobile and independent longer.
Let’s take a look at 10 benefits of exercise researchers at Harvard have identified for seniors:
Lessens risk of heart disease
Lowers blood pressure
Limits knee & mobility problems
Improves mood, reduces depression
Improves cognitive functioning
Helps fend off infection
Finding the right exercise is the ultimate life hack. Not only will it help the elderly feel better physically and emotionally, it will help them live independently far longer – dramatically improving their quality of life.
Exercise for seniors (the complete guide)
This ultimate guide on exercise for seniors is different because there is no complicated exercise routine or trainers needed.
You can choose from a wide range of exercises that you enjoy. No one exercise is the answer. Just get in the habit of doing some of the suggested strength, balance, flexibility and aerobic exercises every week.
I recommend following a weekly routine suggested by a recent study from Harvard University specifically for seniors:
Do at least 150 minutes of walking or other aerobic exercise per week
Practice strength training 2-3 times per week, but never 2 days in a row
Stretch and do balance exercises every day
Just make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
Senior exercises for strength
1. The squat (for strength / lower body, balance)
This is a good strength training exercise for the lower body — the squat to chair. Squats are one of the best exercises to improve the strength of your legs, gluts and your core.
Doing it with a chair is very safe. Try doing 5-15 repetitions, for 2-3 sets. If you feel light headed, dizzy or off balance stop. Here’s a great video to teach proper form:
2. Wall push-ups (for strength / upper body)
Wall push-ups are a great and safe exercise for upper body strength, specifically for the arms, chest and shoulders. The closer one stands to the wall, the easier it will be.
Try doing 10-30 repetitions, for 3 sets.
3. The plank (for strength / core)
Strengthening the core improves balance, overall fitness and prevents many lower back injuries.
Plank strengthens arms, abs, legs, tush, hips and back. In fact, AARP (the United States-based interest group that focuses on the elderly) claims it’s the #1 best overall exercise for every post 50 year old body.
Try doing it for 2-3 sets for 30-60 seconds a set.
4. The bridges (for strength / core)
Like the planks, bridges are great for building strength in your glutes, abs and lower back – the entire core. It’s highly effective, but low impact on the joints.
Try doing 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Stretching exercises for seniors
5. Floor hip flexors
The floor hip flexor stretch does a wonderful job stretching the glutes, thigh and hip flexors.
To do it, lie down flat on the ground. Wrap your hands around one leg, and pull it back to your chest as far as you comfortably can. Hold it in that position for 10 to 30 seconds. While doing so, press the back of the knee of your other leg as far to the ground as you can, stretching your hip flexor.
Try doing it 2-3 times per leg, holding each leg in position for 10 to 30 seconds at a time.
6. Standing hamstring stretch
This is a simple stretch for the back of your legs.
Extend your right leg straight in front of you, heel grounded on the floor and toes pointing to the ceiling. Place your hands on your upper thighs for support and hinge forward from the hip, keeping your spine neutral. Hold. Return to the starting position.
Try doing this 2-3 times, holding it for 10-30 seconds at a time.
7. Double knee torso rotation
This is a great stretch for your outer thighs, hips, chest and back.
Lie down flat on the floor. Lift both knees toward your chest, then lower them to the right side on the floor. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and pressed into the floor, look in the opposite direction, with your arms spread out.
Do this 2-4 times, holding it for 10-30 seconds at a time.
8. Yoga (also for strength and balance)
As we age, our flexibility and pliability diminish. As a result, activities of daily living like getting dressed and tying our shoes become more challenging.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommend Yoga as a “total-solution” exercise for older adults. Yoga is an effective and safe way to improve your overall flexibility, strength, balance and mental fitness.
You can start with a beginners’ yoga routine, or if mobility is an issue, start with chair yoga for seniors found in this video:
Senior exercises to improve balance
9. The single leg stand
The single leg stand is another excellent exercise for improving balance.
Simply lift one knee up so you’re balancing on one leg. Hold for 10 seconds. Then do the other leg. Repeat 5 times per leg. Feel free to use a chair for additional support.
10. Heel raises
Heel raises improve balance by strengthening the toe flexors and getting you used to being on your toes.
Stand straight. Raise your heels of the ground and hold yourself in that position for 3 seconds. Repeat the sequence 10 times. Hold on to a chair if needed.
11. Walk the line
To walk the line, simply place one foot in front of the other, by placing your heel directly in front of your toe (they should touch), and walk 10-15 paces. If you need to, place a hand on a counter top as you do the exercise for balance.
To make the exercise progressively difficult, try doing it with your hands by your side, turning your head side to side, keeping one eye closed, keeping both eyes closed, and doing it backwards.
12. Tai Chi
Tai Chi has been shown by Harvard researchers to improve the balance, gait and overall functional abilities of seniors. Tai Chi is an excellent activity to help seniors improve balance and avoid falls.
Here is a great 8 minute daily Tai Chi video designed specifically for beginner seniors:
Cardio exercise recommendations
Walking, although simple, is still one of the best all around exercises to improve cardio, balance, and overall fitness. According to the National Institute of Health, a simple 30 minute walk a day, can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
If your loved one is just starting out, encourage them to start with a 10 to 15 minute walk and work their way up to 30 to 60 minutes a day. Make sure they have a good pair of supportive sneakers.
14. Swimming (also for strength)
Swimming has been identified as one of the best overall exercises for seniors. It’s gentle on the joints, great for muscle strength, builds the core and improves cardio. One study has shown that swimming reduces falls among seniors by over 30%.
Complex muscle movements, requiring coordination seem to offer benefits that simple movements like walking do not. I’d recommend swimming for a 30-60 minute session, with breaks in between laps as needed.
15. Dancing (also for balance)
Dancing has been shown to not only improve one’s cardiovascular health, balance and motor skills, but also to have significant cognitive benefits.
A recent study in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience demonstrated that the physical demands of dancing, the learning of new dance routines and the emotional benefits of being socially engaged while dancing, all contributed to slowing down mental decline.
Summing it up
The challenges of aging are not inevitable. The 15 exercises selected are proven to help the elderly stay healthy, active and independent longer.
The formula is simple. Do any cardio exercise for 150 minutes a week, any strength training exercise at least 2 times a week and a balance or stretching exercise every day.
Whether it means going for a walk, swimming or dancing, these exercises are fun to do and will make your parents feel great!