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Easy exercises for seniors to complete

March 13, 2014

Maintaining a proper physical form is essential for living a healthy lifestyle, especially for individuals over the age of 50. Exercising can produce a wealth of benefits for seniors, including improving cardiovascular health, mood and memory. 

While the positive outcomes cannot be disputed, some people have a difficult time finding ways to incorporate gym time into their daily routines. Seniors who wish to stay active, but don't have time or access to the gym, have a number of ways they can exercise within their own homes. Especially true for older adults in retirement communities, these simple stretches take little time and can be particularly helpful for seniors.

There are several safety guidelines to follow prior to starting any new exercise. First, seniors should always consult their doctors before engaging in a new activity. While these stretches are meant to boost muscle strength, medical professionals may have additional recommendations to heed. Additionally, individuals should remember to maintain regular breathing patterns, and they should keep water near them at all times.

Knee/chest stretch
Bluestone Chiropractic recommends searching for stretches that help seniors to work on their flexibility, which can help improve joint health and prevent stiffness. The site details the knee-to-chest stretch, which works specifically on a person's knee, lower back and quadriceps. Seniors should lie on the floor with their arms resting by their sides and legs extended. First, pull the right leg toward the chest, hold it for 20 seconds, then release. Switch and replicate the process with the left leg. This stretch should be repeated five times on each leg, with individuals taking breaks as needed.

Neck stretch
The National Institute of Health details the neck stretch, ideal for seniors who experience pain in this area, or who wish to strengthen this muscle. To begin, the organization recommends an individual sit in a chair with feet planted on the floor. Next, he or she should turn the head to the right until the person can feel a slight stretch. However, it's important not to stretch too far. The individual should also maintain a comfortable position. The stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds, then replicated with the left side. This method should be repeated three to five times.

Back stretch
For older adults who would like to work on their back muscles, the NIH recommends the back stretch. Seniors should sit in a chair that has armrests, but they should situate themselves toward the front of the object, sitting upright. From there, they twist to the right - without moving their hips. The right hand should hold onto the right side of the armchair, with the left hand placed on the outside of the right thigh, holding for 10 to 30 seconds. The exercise should be repeated on the left side, then replicated three to five more times.