If you read our last blog about how people are living longer, then you know one of the key components to living a long life is staying active. However, COVID is making it difficult to participate in certain exercise activities or classes, especially for the elderly.
According to the National Institute on Aging there are four types of exercises that are essential for seniors: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. I’ve pulled together some exercises and resources that allow seniors to still achieve these exercises during the pandemic.
Endurance (or aerobic activities) are great for the heart, lungs, and circulatory system and can prevent heart disease as well as colon and breast cancer. A great endurance exercise during COVID is simply going on a brisk walk. To add in some strengthening, take some light weights on the walk with you. This is also a safe way to spend time with an elderly parent during COVID-19. Throw on a mask, get outside, social distance, and walk with your parents to encourage exercise for both of you.
When the pandemic is over, some other great aerobic exercises include
- Playing tennis
Strengthening exercises are extremely important to help older adults remain independent. Building up strength reduces the risk of falling and also makes every day activities easier like climbing stairs, getting up after sitting in a chair, and carrying groceries. Some great strengthening exercises to do at home include lifting weights and using a resistance band.
Balancing exercises help to prevent falls, also helping seniors stay independent. Some great balancing exercises include lifting one foot in the air while balancing on the other (with a chair nearby for support) and doing a “heel to toe” walk in a straight line. Tai Chi is another balancing activity which involves slowly shifting body weight from one side to another.
Being flexible helps with everyday activities such as leaning over to tie a shoe. There are countless resources online to guide senior citizens through stretches and chair yoga that they can do at home, which I’ve listed below.
Resources for at-home exercises during COVID-19
Here are some great online resources for the exercises listed above.
- Yoga Anytime provides online yoga classes specifically for seniors
- Senior Planet provides a variety of free online exercise classes for seniors ranging from stretches, Tai Chi, chair yoga, fit fusion, and more!
- Silver Sneakers also has online exercise classes as well as wellness classes including stress relief, nutrition, and gratitude workshops.
- Here’s a great blog from HomeCare Angels with detailed strengthening and balance exercises.
- Another blog from Senior Lifestyle with ideas for weight lifting and resistance band exercises.
- A quick Youtube search for stretches for seniors provides countless videos that seniors can follow along with.
- It’s also important to remember to consult a doctor before performing these exercises
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has made exercise classes less accessible, there’s still some exercises older adults can do at home to keep healthy. Encourage your elderly loved one to stay active by taking an online class with them or have them sign up with their friends to do it together. Doing these exercises will ultimately help senior citizens maintain their independence as they age, which is an excellent reason for them to embrace it.