HEALTH & LIFESTYLE 7 simple – but essential – exercises for the elderly A
S WE grow older, niggling aches and pains can be seen as a sign it’s time to slow down and take things easy. But slowing down too much can do more harm than good.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP; csp.org.uk) points out that movement keeps muscles strong and helps maintain a healthy weight, which also protects the joints as we age.
While it might feel like movement is the last thing you need when aches set in, regular activity can actually help manage joint stiffness, pain and fatigue, which can affect mood and mental health and wellbeing too.
Keeping active can also cut the risk, or help manage, conditions like heart disease and stroke, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.
Despite this, nearly a quarter (24%) of over-65s do no strengthening activities at all, putting them at increasing risk of falls and other health problems, according to CSP research.
“Movement is essential for every aspect of our health, says physiotherapist and CSP professional advisor Fran Hallam. “Our bodies are designed to move, and not doing so is harmful to our health, muscles and joints. As we become older, this can also increase the risk of falling.”
The good news is, it’s never too late to start – so if your activity levels could use a boost, here’s what the pros at the CSP advise... or small – to keep you motivated, and pace yourself by starting slowly and gradually building up your activity.
The CSP says it’s OK to ache a bit, but if pain persists or gets worse, ease back and go slower.
SWIMMING or walking briskly will raise heart and breathing rates, benefit the cardiovascular system and help keep weight in check.
Exercising in a swimming pool can include walking, squats, marching and side-stepping as well as swimming.
All these activities improve fitness and are low impact on the joints. sure you’re challenging yourself – getting off the bus a stop earlier or carrying the shopping a little further,
for example.” STRETCHING muscles through activities such as such as Tai chi or yoga will help promote flexibility and range of motion in joints. The following exercises are recommended by physiotherapists to help improve co-ordination and balance in older people. They should be done daily, or at least twice a week.
Sit tall near the front of a chair with feet slightly back. Lean forwards slightly and stand up (with your hands on the chair if needed). Step back until your legs touch the chair, then slowly lower yourself back into the chair. Repeat 10 times.
Stand tall, holding on to a sturdy surface such as the kitchen sink or worktop, then lift your heels off the floor, taking your weight into your big toes. Try not to lean forwards or backwards. Hold for three seconds, then lower with control. Repeat 10 times.
Stand tall holding the same support, then raise your toes, taking your weight on your heels. Don’t stick your bottom out. Hold for three seconds, then lower with control. Repeat 10 times.
Stand close to your support and hold it with one hand. Balance on one leg, keeping the supported knee soft and your posture upright. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
Stand tall, with one hand on your support. Put one foot directly in front of the other to make a straight line. Look ahead, take your hand off the support as you’re able and balance for 10 seconds. Take the front foot back to hip-width apart. Then place the other foot in front and balance for 10 seconds.
Stand tall, with one hand on your support. Look ahead and walk 10 steps forwards, placing one foot directly in front of the other. Aim for a steady walking action. Take the feet back to hip width apart, turn around slowly and repeat the steps in the other direction.