NCOA helps community organizations offer fun and proven programs that keep seniors moving. However, there are many proven programs that can help keep seniors active. Explore these evidence-based physical activity programs, which have been proven to produce measurable health benefits for older adults. Active Choices is a six-month physical activity program that helps individuals incorporate preferred physical activities in their daily lives.
The program is individualized for each person. The program utilizes the ALED book and offers optional online support resources for participants and facilitators. ALED can be offered independently or with existing community-based physical activity programs. Choose exercise that requires little or no skill, such as walking, cycling on a stationary bike, or aquajogging running in a swimming pool. But video games are fun. Games that simulate bowling, tennis, or boxing, for example, can all be played seated in a chair or wheelchair and are fun ways to burn calories and elevate your heart rate, either alone or playing along with friends.
Since people with disabilities or long-term injuries have a tendency to live less-active lifestyles, it can be even more important for you to exercise on a regular basis. According to the U.
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Department of Health and Human Services, adults with disabilities should aim for:. If your disability or injury makes it impossible for you to meet these guidelines, aim to engage in regular physical activity according to your ability, and avoid inactivity whenever possible. Depending on the location and nature of your injury or disability, you may still be able to walk, jog, use an elliptical machine, or even swim using flotation aids.
If not, try using a stationary upright or recumbent bike for cardiovascular exercise. When it comes to strength training, your injury or disability may limit your use of free weights and resistance bands, or may just mean you have to reduce the weight or level of resistance. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist for safe ways to work around the injury or disability, and make use of exercise machines in a gym or health club, especially those that focus on the lower body.
If you experience joint problems from arthritis or an injury, for example, a doctor or physical therapist may recommend isometric exercises to help maintain muscle strength or prevent further muscle deterioration.
Senior Fitness & Exercise Programs | NCOA
Isometric exercises require you to push against immovable objects or another body part without changing the muscle length or moving the joint. Muscles are gently contracted using electrical current transmitted via electrodes placed on the skin. Chair-bound exercises are ideal for people with lower body injuries or disabilities, those with weight problems or diabetes, and frail seniors looking to reduce their risk of falling.
Cardiovascular and flexibility chair exercises can help improve posture and reduce back pain, while any chair exercise can help alleviate body sores caused by sitting in the same position for long periods. Chair aerobics, a series of seated repetitive movements, will raise your heart rate and help you burn calories, as will many strength training exercises when performed at a fast pace with a high number of repetitions.
In fact any rapid, repetitive movements offer aerobic benefits and can also help to loosen up stiff joints. If you want to add competition to your workouts, several organizations offer adaptive exercise programs and competitions for sports such as basketball, track and field, volleyball, and weightlifting. Many traditional upper body exercises can be done from a seated position using dumbbells, resistant bands, or anything that is weighted and fits in your hand, like soup cans.
How to Exercise if You Have Limited Mobility
Stretching while lying down or practicing yoga or Tai Chi in a chair can also help increase flexibility and improve your range of motion. Most yoga poses can be modified or adapted depending on your physical mobility, weight, age, medical condition, and any injury or disability. Chair yoga is ideal if you have a disability, injury, or a medical condition such arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis, or multiple sclerosis.
Similarly, seated versions of Tai Chi exercises can also be practiced in a chair or a wheelchair to improve flexibility, strength, and relaxation. Exercise can play a vital role in reducing weight and managing type 2 diabetes. It can stabilize blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and slow the progression of neuropathy.
Your size can make it harder to bend or move correctly and even if you feel comfortable exercising in a gym you may have difficulty finding suitable equipment. When choosing a gym, make sure it offers exercise machines and weight benches that can support larger people. Whatever your size, there are plenty of alternatives to health clubs. A good first step to exercising is to incorporate more activity into your everyday life.
What Types of Exercises Are Recommended If You Have Limited Mobility?
Gardening, walking to the store, washing the car, sweeping the patio, or pacing while talking on the phone are all easy ways to get moving. Even small activities can add up over the course of a day, especially when you combine them with short periods of scheduled exercise as well.
Stretching Exercises for Wheelchair Users — Infographic illustrating simple stretching exercises for wheelchair users. Seated Total Body Strength — A total body workout that can be done while seated and targets both the upper and lower body. It can be adapted to accommodate any injury or disability. Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging — Details how exercise and protein intake can help limit and treat age-related declines in muscle mass, strength, and functional abilities.
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Wheelchair Yoga — Sample poses that can be performed in a wheelchair. May All Be Happy. Get Fit Where You Sit. Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M. The content of this reprint is for informational purposes only and NOT a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. ORG Trusted guide to mental health Toggle navigation. What are the benefits for older adults? Overcoming obstacles What if you hate to exercise?
What are the benefits of exercise for older adults? Physical health benefits Helps you maintain or lose weight. Mental health benefits Improves sleep. Five myths about activity and aging Myth 1: There's no point to exercising. I'm going to get only anyway. Exercise puts me at risk of falling down. I'll never be the athlete I once was. I can't exercise because I'm disabled.
I'm too weak or have too many aches and pains. What if you hate to exercise? Think about activities that you enjoy and how you can incorporate them into an exercise routine: Listen to music or an audiobook while lifting weights. Window shopping while walking laps at the mall. Get competitive while playing tennis. Take photographs on a nature hike. Meet new people at a yoga class or fitness center.
Watch a favorite movie or TV show while on the treadmill. Instead of chatting with a friend over coffee, chat while walking, stretching, or strength training. Walk the golf course instead of using a cart.
Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips
Walk or play fetch with a dog. At worst, you've spent time with a good friend. Building a balanced exercise plan Staying active is not a science.
Balance What it is: Cardio What it is: Strength and power training What it is: Flexibility What it is: Types of activities beneficial to older adults Walking. Support activity levels with the right diet Diet as well as exercise can have a major impact on energy, mood, and fitness. Vary your sources of protein instead of relying on just red meat, including more fish, poultry, beans, and eggs. Reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates you consume—pastries, cakes, pizza, cookies and chips—and replace them with high-quality protein. Snack on nuts and seeds instead of chips, replace a baked dessert with Greek yogurt, swap out slices of pizza for a grilled chicken breast and a side of beans.
One Caveat — Don't Limit Yourself to Seated Exercises Unless You Have No Other Choice
Recommended reading Exercise and Aging: Aquatic Exercise Association Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging — Details how exercise and protein intake can help limit and treat age-related declines in muscle mass, strength, and functional abilities. HelpGuide has no advertising or corporate sponsors. We depend on support from our readers. All donations help and are greatly appreciated. Many hotels now have fitness centers.
Bring along your exercise clothing or equipment resistance band, bathing suit, or walking shoes.
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Get out and see the sights on foot rather than just by tour bus. Work out to an exercise video when your spouse is napping Ask a family member or friend to come over so you can go for a walk. Ask another friend to go with you on your daily walk.