Have you ever been reading an article about exercise, looked at the descriptions and thought, “Yeah right, THAT’S not happening”?
It’s even worse when there are photos of young fit folks lifting heavy weights or twisting their bodies like pretzels into positions you haven’t been able to get into for decades.
Let’s face it, those articles may mean well but they miss the senior friendly mark by a mile.
It can make you feel like throwing in the towel before you even begin. Don’t.
Exercise isn’t just the best anti-aging solution that exists; it will also make you feel fantastic.
With some simple modifications, you can transform those ridiculously impossible moves into realistic exercises for seniors or folks who just aren’t as flexible as they once were.
Successful exercises for seniors start with the basics
To maintain your health, and slow down the hands of time, experts say those of us with a bit of gray in our hair should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise, a week.
That might sound intimidating at first blush. But when you break it down, it’s less than an hour of exercise three days a week. Or better yet, just a half hour five days a week.
And exercise doesn’t automatically translate into jumping, running or twisting. In fact, if you prefer you can simply lace up a pair of sturdy shoes, head out your front door, and walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes. Then turn around and come home.
Do that five days a week and you’ve met your recommended exercise guidelines.
But the truth is cardio isn’t the only kind of exercise that’s important. To stay healthy and on top of your game you need to do some strength training exercises, too.
Strength exercises become more and more important with each passing year. They can help you stay steady on your feet and independent for many more years to come.
Healthy doesn’t have to equal hard
You can take nearly any high impact, joint-busting exercise and modify it to be more senior friendly. And just because those mods make them easier to do that doesn’t mean you won’t still see the results.
Following are three examples of popular but difficult to do exercises, which have been transformed into realistic but effective exercises for seniors. Get the thumbs up from your doc, and then try them out.
1. Squats to chair squats:
When it comes time to tone and lift the backside, nothing beats a squat. But they practically require the balance of a ballet dancer. And even done properly they can be hard on the knees.
Instead of risking injury, get the results you want using a sturdy chair. Brace the back of the chair against the wall, so it doesn’t slip. Without using your hands, you’re going to sit back into the chair.
Keep your back straight and your knees over your ankles. Leave your hands hanging by your sides, or hold them out in front of you for extra balance. Lower all the way to the chair, then, still without using your hands, stand back up again.
Your goal is to repeat this move 3 to 10 times for strong legs, better balance and a perky butt. But don’t get discouraged if you have to start with just one, or use a hand to help you do the move. Go slow and build up those muscles.
2. Jumping Jacks to stepping jacks:
The easiest way to modify any high intensity exercise is to turn it into a step, rather than a jump. And this includes the old standby jumping jacks. You can tone your arms and legs, as well as get your heart rate up, by modifying this traditional move.
Instead of jumping while you lift your arms over your head, step out to the left then come back to center. Repeat on the right side. That counts as one stepping jack. Repeat 3 to 10 times.
3. Pushups to wallups:
Pushups are great for building strength in your arms, shoulders and upper body. But you have to have a certain amount of strength in your arms already to do them. And attempting a pushup when you don’t have the muscle strength could lead to an injury.
But incorporating a wall into this old maneuver turns the pushup into another move worthy of your list of exercises for seniors.
To do a wallup stand with your feet about a foot away from the wall. Place your palms flat on the wall, at shoulder height. Gently but firmly straighten your arms, so you push your body away from the wall. Then slowly lower yourself back down so your nose is a few inches away from the wall. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
The closer your feet are to the wall, the easier this move is. So feel free to modify it to work for you. For variety, you can do a similar exercise pushing yourself up from a counter, like in the kitchen.
Don’t let unrealistic expectations stand in the way of your exercise goals. Making some simple modifications to almost any exercise can transform it into a friendlier move.