For older adults and seniors who want to stay healthy and independent, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends four types of exercises:
- Strength exercises
build older adult muscles and increase your metabolism, which helps to keep your weight and blood sugar in check.
- Balance exercises
build leg muscles, and this helps to prevent falls. According to the NIH, U.S. hospitals have 300,000 admissions for broken hips each year, many of them seniors, and falling is often the cause of those fractures. If you are an older adult, balance exercises will help you avoid problems as you get older. And if you are a senior, balance exercises can help you stay independent by helping you avoid the disabilities that could result from falling.
- Stretching exercises
can give you more freedom of movement, which will allow you to be more active during your senior years.
- Endurance exercises
are any activity—walking, jogging, swimming, biking, even raking leaves, so that your heart rate and breathing increase for an extended period of time. Build up your endurance gradually, starting with as little as 5 minutes of endurance activities at a time.
Aging Gracefully: What are the Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults?
It's never too late to improve your health.
The notion that exercise is good for you has been around for quite a while, but until recently seniors have been left out of the picture.
Does Everyone Benefits from Exercise?
Today, new information is emerging from research that proves beyond any doubt that -
- People of all ages and physical conditions benefit from exercise and physical activity.
- Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities.
- Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of seniors who are frail, or who have diseases that accompany aging.
Why are so many Seniors Afraid to Exercise?
Exercise and physical activity are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself. However, some older adults are reluctant to exercise. They may be afraid that exercise will be too strenuous, or that physical activity will harm them. Research shows that actually the opposite is true:
- Exercise is safe for people of all age groups.
- Older adults hurt their health far more by not exercising than by exercising.
An inactive lifestyle can cause older adults to lose ground in four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.
Is it ever Too Late to Start Exercising?
Even if you have had an inactive lifestyle, there is good news. It's never too late to improve your health through exercise.
Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help you maintain or partly restore your strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.
Growing older doesn't mean you have to lose strength or your ability to do everyday tasks. Exercise can help older adults feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think they're too old or too out of shape.
Knee Exercise: Strengthen Your Quads (Thighs) for Healthy Knees.
(1) Leg Lifts
Warm up your knee joints by walking around awhile before you start this knee exercise.
- Choose your location.
- Beginners can do this knee exercise by sitting on the floor, a chair or on a firm bed.
- Make sure your back is well supported. Lean back on your hands, or against the headboard.
- Place a pillow under your right knee.
- Lift your right foot a few inches, and feel the back of your knee push into the pillow.
- Hold for 10 seconds, and then rest your leg.
- Repeat this exercise until you feel a slight burning in the front of your leg in the quads. This knee exercise strengthens your quad muscle, which will help to support your kneecap and knee joint.
- Repeat with the left leg, first placing the pillow under your left knee.
- As with your right leg, hold for 10 seconds, and then relax.
- Continue this knee exercise until you feel a slight burning in your quad muscle.
Perform this knee exercise at least twice a day, increasing the number of leg raises as your quad muscles get stronger.
Note: When you can easily do this knee exercise for 3 minutes or more, you can add more resistance by sitting in a chair, straightening your leg and lifting it. Keep your leg straight while lifting, but do not lock the knee.
(2) Wall Slide Strengthens Thigh Muscles
Be sure to walk around a bit and do some gentle stretching before you begin this knee exercise.
While doing this knee exercise, wear sturdy shoes that provide good support for your feet. Make sure you are standing on carpet or a non-slippery surface. Stand with your back against a wall, and your feet shoulder width apart facing to your front:
- Slide down, keeping your back against the wall, until you have reached a half-way to a sitting position. Slide down only as far as you feel comfortable; when you get stronger you will be able to slide into more of a sitting position.
- For the first few times you do this knee exercise, hold the sitting position for a few seconds, then slide back up. As your quad muscles get stronger, you can hold the sitting position for up to 10 seconds & more.
- Starting from a standing position, repeat this knee exercise 6 – 8 times as a start.
As you feel stronger, you work up to repeating this knee exercise 12 times.
When you are finished, walk around a bit to give your knees and quads a gentle stretch.
This knee exercise can be repeated several times per week
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