In our last blog post we mentioned the importance of exercise for seniors in wheelchairs and seniors with limited mobility. We at Carefect Home care Services understand that a well-balanced exercise routine includes more than just one area of exercise, so this post will cover the next steps seniors should take in improving their health through exercise.
Strength training is a popular exercise program for all ages, but it is very important for seniors. As we age our bodies start to lose their muscle mass, something that strength training can help us with. Strength training can help seniors build up their muscle and bone mass while also helping improve their balance which can help prevent falls. Strength training is one of the easiest types of exercises for seniors with limited mobility to engage in. If you are in a wheelchair you can do strength training right from your chair by lifting weights. There are a variety of weight lifting techniques that are easy to do and can be done with any size weight such as curling or putting your arms by your sides and slowly lifting the weights. Seniors should have a caregiver, trainer, or other person to help them just in case they get tired so that they do not drop the weights and injure themselves. It is important with this type of exercise to know your limits when you start out so that you do not pull any muscles or get hurt. If you try to lift weights that are too heavy for you, you greatly increase your chance of injury, so it is important to have someone there to help you determine which weights work best for you. You can also buy resistance bands and stretch them out in front of your body to get your muscles used to working against resistance which will help your muscles build up strength so that you can lift heavier weights.
Another type of exercise that is good for seniors is flexibility exercises. As we age our bodies become less flexible than they used to be and our muscles and joints start to stiffen up. Flexibility exercises can help keep your body limber and will prevent pain and stiffness as well as possible injuries that you could sustain doing other types of exercises if you have a lot of difficulty moving your body. Simple stretching exercises and yoga are good to practice because you can work on a variety of moves and positions to help stretch your muscles out. Seniors in wheelchairs or with limited mobility can have someone assist them in getting set up on the floor on a yoga mat. Once you are set up on your yoga mat you can try your own stretching exercises or get a yoga tape and follow along with the moves that will stretch your upper body. Flexibility exercises can also work well with strength training to increase your muscle mass by toning your muscles when you stretch them. As with the other two types of exercise it is important to know your body’s limits for flexibility exercises as well so that you do not hurt yourself. If you start out with things that your body cannot comfortably do in the beginning you can tear or pull a muscle and then your exercises will be painful and you will have trouble motivating yourself to continue with your routine. It is always a good idea to try things out and stick with what works and discontinue things that you cannot easily do in the beginning. As you become more flexible you might be able to revisit some of the other things that you tried and could not do in the beginning.
One Important Thing…
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should not get discouraged. Exercising when you are in a wheelchair or face limited mobility can be difficult, but it is not impossible and it can have great health benefits for you. In the beginning you might not be able to do as much as you want to, but over time you will see that you are able to do more exercises in a day and that you are getting stronger. Some days you might have bad days though where you get tired too easily or you get hurt and cannot finish your routine. On days like that you just have to keep in mind that you did your best and try again the next day. If you have other friends that are seniors you might want to ask them to exercise with you so that you can motivate each other to keep going. Caregivers can help with motivation by joining in on the exercises and by providing snacks and refreshments after the exercises. Daily exercises can help greatly improve a senior’s quality of life and reduce the risks of serious health concerns as they age.
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