Activities for Seniors in Care and at Home
If you’ve lost partial mobility or you’re just looking for some safe activities to keep your joints supple, daily exercises are the best way to keep yourself fit, healthy and happy. Ageing shouldn’t be associated with a loss of mobility or reduction in quality of life, and physical activity is the perfect way to keep yourself active well into your retirement years.
According to Dr Brigid Lynch, a Senior Research Fellow at Cancer Council Victoria, “being physically active across the day, in a range of settings, has important health benefits for everyone”. Aside from releasing endorphins, commonly known as “feel good” hormones, exercise has proven to relieve stress and anxiety as well as improve cognitive abilities. Whether you’re a strong and active 65 year old, or a partially mobile 70 year old, just 30 minutes of gentle exercise a day will help you feel energized and relaxed, and keep your mind and body strong. Below are a few daily exercises you can do in your own home or in care.
Walking is both a gentle and low impact form of exercise. If you’re still able to walk, take a 10 minute stroll around your aged care home, a brisk 20 minute walk around your neighbourhood or a 30 minute walk along your local beach. This will give you the fresh air and cardio activity to get your blood moving faster and your endorphins flowing. Even better, make it a social event and ask a friend or your partner to join you.
Incorporating stretching exercises into your daily routine builds the flexibility of your joints and improves mobility, reducing the risk of muscle injury or strain. The following stretching exercise are moderate enough to perform daily:
- Neck stretch: Loosen your sore or tight neck by leaning your neck to the right side and using your right hand to very gently pull your head until you can feel a slight stretch. Repeat on the left hand side.
- Upper back stretch: Release a stiff back by stand up straight or sitting on a backless chair, connect your hands together behind your back and slowly pull your arms straight and backwards slightly until you feel a small stretch.
- Hip stretch: Relieve tight hips by sitting in a chair with your legs placed at a 90 degree angle. Put your right ankle on top of your left knee and let your right leg relax and weigh down until you feel a small stretch. Count to around 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Strength training is known to maintain and increase muscle mass, and therefore improve balance and coordination. Loss of muscle mass is a common occurrence as we get older, and keeping up a strong body can help you avoid future falls and injuries. Complete the exercises below, two or three times a week to keep your body as strong possible for as long as possible:
- Chair squat: Place a chair behind you and stand upright with your feet shoulders width apart. Do a squat by slowly bending your knees and sticking your hips out behind you until you sit down on the chair. Stand up up immediately and repeat up to 12 times if you can manage it. Place the chair next to railing or table to make the exercise easier if needs be.
- Leg lifts: Stand sideways, next to a chair or wall. Place a resistance band around your ankles and stand up straight. Put all of your weight into the leg closest to the wall and lift the opposite leg straight out to the side, foot facing forward and flexed until you feel some resistance. Repeat on the opposite side. This can be repeated up to 12 times.
- Step ups: Stand in front of a staircase or porch step, place your right foot onto the first step and move up to the second step. Once both feet are on the second step, move back down, right foot first. Swap sides and repeat up to 12 times. Use the staircase railing if needed.
Whether you’re still living in your own home, or have chosen the help of aged care services in a retirement home, daily exercises are a vital part of keeping yourself healthy, happy and supple. Reduce the risk of falls or small injuries and improve your mental health by taking care of your body, and you’ll be contributing greatly to the quality of your retirement years.