Ahh…Spring is in the air. 🙂
The snow is now melting and the winds and rain are getting warmer. You can hear the birds singing in the morning sunshine once again. I love spring, Don’t you?
Everything smells and looks so much fresher, it just makes you want to get out there and enjoy it.
For some people, this is easier said than done. Especially for seniors.
Not everyone has the ability to get up and move as freely as others. This is a good reason for giving your best effort to perform some sort of daily routine involving physical activity daily.
Throughout the day, there are many opportunities to move and stretch out our body. You can also practice chair exercises while sitting to provide upper body, and lower body movement with less impact on balance to help provide stability during movement.
There have been numerous studies from institutes worldwide that provide enough proof that a sedentary lifestyle is not a healthy lifestyle choice. No matter if you eat, healthy or not. If we do not maintain a certain level of daily activity and movement of our entire body, our body will deteriorate at a rapid level. This, in turn, will affect your health in a serious way and not a good way.
Loss of mobility can be a genuine issue for seniors and some soft tissue injuries in our aging society. In most cases, it is often preventable and in many cases can be easily treated with some low impact exercises along with some upper & lower body movement routines followed daily.
These exercises help maintain circulatory function within the muscle tissue as well as elasticity in tissues and tendons for flexibility. Regular daily exercise can help prevent bone loss as well as many other age-related diseases. It can improve strength and balance and can reduce the risk of early death in those riddled with high blood pressure. Regardless of your physical condition, physical activity can always have a positive impact on your health and mobility.
As we get into the later on years, as we all know, our body changes the way it deals with certain areas of our bodies,:), things tend to slow down and just don’t feel the way they did years before.
Our energy levels are different as well, which is why it is so vitally important to implement daily activity into our lives. There are many options to help with this, even if you have limited mobility, and the health benefits are amazing! Wanna learn how? Continue reading to find out…
First, Always start your routine with some stretches to get loosened up. This is a must!
When you start your routine with stretches it gives the muscles and tendons a chance to warm up. Loosening up the muscles helps increase flexibility as well as joint health, and gets the blood flowing to help prevent muscle knots or cramping. Stretching also helps with stress relief and relaxation, so it’s always beneficial and healthy to do stretches.
Limber up with,
Shoulder Ball Roll – Shoulder Ball rolls are just as they sound. Sitting straight in your chair, elbows bent and arms close to your sides. Now lift or shrug your shoulders upwards and rotate them in a circular motion. Alternate moving them forwards and backward. Shoulder rolls are good for strengthening the rotator cuff area and the trapezoids
Angel Wings -Stretch arms out to your side,( so you look like a ‘T’). Back straight and knees apart in a relaxed sit posture. Now bring your arms, still stretched out, up to above your head position and stretch as if to reach for the stars. Lift up the shoulders and reach to stretch the muscles upwards then as you bring your arms casually down to your sides, Shake them out as if a shiver up to your shoulders. This increases circulation and you can feel it working.
Seated Rowing – To practice a seated row, sit with both feet on the floor in a relaxed sitting position with knees comfortably apart. Place arms with elbows bent at your side. Now make a motion as if your cranking a wheel simultaneously with both hands. As you crank forward, slightly lean forward and as you come back around, lean back straight as if rowing a boat. Breathe in as you row forward and exhale as you come back. Do this 10-15 times forward and reverse for the next 10- 15 reps. This movement engages the core muscles as well as shoulders and arms.
Toe Tappers – Toe taps are simple. Just place your feet flat on the floor from a seated position( if your chair is too high get a different one or support your feet. Sitting in a chair that is too high or too low is unhealthy and prevents proper blood flow in the legs)). Then you will point your toes up towards the ceiling and back to the floor. For a greater range of motion, you can also point your toes to the floor and lift your heels off the floor. Repeat 8-10 times or as desired.
Leg & Knee lifts – Leg lifts are great for your quad muscles which are vital in helping us stand and balance, sit, and change positions. To perform knee lifts while in a sitting position, raise your right leg up towards the chest as far as you can without discomfort and gently place your foot back down to the floor. Alternate legs and perform 5 – 10 reps on each side.
Exercises to Help Maintain Muscle and Joint Flexibility
These exercises will help prevent loss of mobility – especially in seniors – and maintain proper muscle & joint health in the aging body:
Upper Body Clam Shell:
This exercise can be practiced either sitting down or standing up and promotes increased shoulder flexibility and stability, as well as give your back, chest, and arms a small workout.
Sit in your chair, upright with feet flat on the floor.
Keep elbows bent and place hands or fists upward( to make upper arms parallel to the floor)
Bring your forearms together in front of you to touch then back to start position. (squeezing your shoulder blades together).
To make this exercise more challenging, you can hold small weights in your hands while performing these exercises.
Arm Propeller or (circle) is a simple exercise and can strengthen your shoulder muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff area of the shoulder.
To perform these, stretch your arms out to your sides(so you look like a ‘T’).
First set, place palms down, now rotate arms in a (small) circular motion 5-10 times. Then, second, set place palms upwards and rotate them in the opposite direction, small circular motion 5-10 times
Remember to make slow (small) circular motions to reduce impact and repeat motion 2 to 3 sets in each direction.
Only do what you can for now. You will build up more strength as you practice this one.
Chair Squats or Semi-sits
Chair squats or Semi-sits are a safe way to build strength. Bending and stretching of your knees will strengthen the knee muscles and allow more oxygen in the blood to improve blood flow around the joints, to help keep them strong and flexible.
Stand in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart.
Engage your core abdominal muscles to keep proper posture.
Slowly lower your body to the chair and bend your knees like you’re going to sit.
Touch the chair seat lightly, then return to a standing position.
Make sure to keep your chest and head up. Don’t let your knees go past your toes. Push up on your heels to rise.
Seated Abdominal Press
Seated abdominal exercises help you to strengthen your core. Maintaining your core strength is key to maintaining stability, and thus, your overall mobility.
Start with sitting on your chair, in an upright position, with your feet flat to the floor
Place your hands on your knees with arms straight out and elbows locked.
Press your palms into your knees, engaging the core
Hold 3-5 seconds
Repeat in sets of 10 – 15 reps 4 or 5 times
Sitting Side Bends
Yet another great core exercise you can do anywhere sitting or standing.
Sit on a chair,(or stand) with your feet flat on the floor
Place one hand behind your head, the other arm outstretched to one side
Bend to lean your body over to the side as if reaching toward the floor.
Contract your abdominal muscles and return to the starting position.
Try not to allow your chest to fall forward and try to keep both feet flat on the floor.
Low-back Rotation Stretch
Our spine is our control center as well as the main source of strength for many activities, and the lower lumbar region of the spine is the powerhouse of all our movement. The benefits of stretching your lower back on a regular basis include improved range of motion, reduced back pain, and increased flexibility of tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Stretching exercises that focus on the lower back help to relieve tension and morning stiffness.
Start with sitting on a chair in an upright position with your feet flat on the floor.
Gently twist your upper body, keeping the spine straight, so your shoulders rotate to your left side (use the chair or your leg for support if you need to get a deeper stretch)
Hold for 20-30 seconds
Return to starting position
Repeat on the right side
Aside from underlying diseases, there are a number of risk factors that can increase your risk of experiencing lower back pain, including age, fitness level, pregnancy, weight gain, occupational risk factors(ergonomics), or even backpack or purse overload.
When it comes to treating low back pain, one of the more commonly used treatments for low back pain is an exercise program. With the hope that a patient would be comfortable practicing daily, in the privacy of the home, to promote faster healing. As well as to help strengthen the core muscle groups supporting the lower back, improve mobility and flexibility, and promote proper positioning and posture.
3 Exercises to alleviate Lower Back Pain
Photo courtesy of rawpixel on Unsplash
Lie on the floor with arms to sides
Lift your feet bending both knees 90 degrees (thighs perpendicular to the floor)
Slowly tap toes to the floor alternating your feet
( if you go fast you are creating an unnecessary impact to various locations of the body possibly causing damage. Go slow)
*Keep your core engaged throughout this exercise, if you feel any lower back pain, only lower your toes half the way down
Lying on back, bend left knee up and place the foot on the floor
Bend the right knee to chest and place a strap around the ball of the foot
Gently straighten right leg toward the ceiling
Press out through the heel
Hold for 1 minute, repeat on the other leg
Get down on all fours
Tighten your core muscles
Keep your spine and neck in a neutral position (head aligned with the neck)
Slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward
Switch sides and repeat
Remember, if you ever feel any pain during any type of exercises, don’t try to push through it.
If you experience persistent pain and discomfort in your back while performing normal daily tasks, consider talking to your doctor.
Give some of these a try and let me know if they are making a difference for your lower back pain relief.
Find what works best for you and stick with it. Take a daily walk, join a local yoga class, or just do your stretches while you chat with buddies over coffee. Maybe go to the local residents and take a senior citizen out for a walk, It may turn out to be a group effort. 🙂