These ‘top tips’ have been created specifically with older people in mind to help maintain their fitness and help look after their physical and emotional wellbeing.
The activities are suitable for all different abilities and can be easily done at home with everyday items such as chairs, water bottles and even cans of beans.
Stephen Macconville, fitness lead at Nuffield Health, said: “It is recommended that older people try to keep physically active throughout the week to stay healthy.”
“It is important to use our muscles regularly to maintain bone strength, muscle strength, coordination, keep the heart healthy and improve sleep. But there are many other important benefits to exercising such as building self-confidence and good emotional wellbeing.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Exercising isn’t just about working up a sweat or running marathons, it can also be moving more each day at our own pace and in whatever way works.”
“Being even modestly active helps give you a boost and this is particularly important during lockdown. For those who are already pretty active, these are good tips to try and keep up fitness at home. For anyone who’s feeling inspired to make a start at home they can certainly help you get started.”
1. Chair squats
The activities begin with chair squats to help strengthen the muscles of the lower body, bones and joints. Stephen Macconville, fitness lead at Nuffield Health, explains:
“Stand in front of a chair with your feet as far apart as your hips. Bend your knees while keeping your shoulders and chest upright. Lower your bottom slowly (four seconds) so you sit down. Then push your body back up to return to a standing position (two to four seconds). Try to avoid using your hands. Aim to perform these five to ten times or for a duration of 20-60 seconds, take a rest after for 40-60 seconds. Repeat this action two to five times.”
If you don’t feel like you can do this exercise in full, just try bending your legs a little until you feel you can go further. Then work towards the full activity.
2. The Stork
It continues with the stork to improve balance and bone strength.
“Stand facing a non-moveable chair or surface for support if you need it. Warm up with a slow march for one minute, gradually raising your knees higher. With your arms at your side, slowly lift your left foot and balance on your right foot for ten seconds. Slowly lower your left foot and repeat with your right foot. Aim to build up the duration by five seconds each time as you feel more comfortable. To increase difficulty, try raising your hand above your head on the same side or slowly swinging your arms like you’re running. Repeat on both legs three to five times each.”
3. Stair Stepping
The activities conclude with stair stepping which helps to improve coordination, heart health and lower body strength.
“Stand in front of a staircase or step and step up with your right foot, then up with your left. Then step back down with your right, then back down with your left. Try to repeat ten times or for a period of 20-60 seconds. Take a rest before changing the leading foot. If you need a little support, hold on gently to the railing, or gently touch the wall with your finger tip. If this is comfortable, to increase difficulty, hold some weight in each hand such as a bottle of water. Try to perform these two to five times, take a break for 40-60 seconds before repeating again.”
4. Wall snow angels
To improve mobility, posture and strength, Age UK and Nuffield Health suggest doing “wall snow angels”. Stephen Macconville, fitness lead at Nuffield Health, continues:
“Stand with your upper back, head, bum and heels against the wall. Start with your hands out to the side with your palms facing outwards. Whilst maintaining contact with the wall, slowly raise your hands above your head, stretching as wide and as high as possible. Slowly return to your starting position and then repeat – aim to complete 5-10 times. Perform this 2-3 times, take a break for 40-60 seconds before repeating again.”
Rotations can improve upper body and back mobility, which is very important for many older people. A simple exercise you can do from the comfort of your home is as follows:
“Holding a stick or broom horizontally behind your head, stand with your feet hip width apart and your knees slightly bent. If you don’t have a broom, put your hands on your shoulders keeping your arms at 90 degrees. Keeping the broom straight, turn to your right as far as comfortable, twisting through your hips. Then slowly turn to the other side, building up your range of movement. Repeat 10-20 times. Perform this 2-5 times, take a break for 40-60 seconds before repeating again.
6. Overhead lifts
To improve upper body strength and daily functional movement, consider doing some simple overhead lifts if possible.
“In a standing position hold 2 evenly weighted objects like cans of beans or bottles. Start with your hands down by your sides and your palms facing away from you. Keeping your elbows by your side, slowly bring the objects up to your shoulders then slowly extend your arms above your head. Reverse the action until your hands are back by your side. Repeat the movement 5-10 times. Perform this 2-5 times, take a break for 40-60 seconds before repeating again.”
7. Wall push-ups
Last of all, wall push-ups are a great way to maintain upper body strength and bone mineral density.
“Stand at arm’s length in front of a wall which is safe. Lean forward slightly and put your palms flat on the wall at shoulder height. If you are just starting out, have your feet closer to the wall. If you want more of a challenge have your feet further back form the wall. Keep your feet planted as you slowly bring your body towards the wall, aiming to keep your body straight. Gently push yourself back so that your arms are straight again. Aim for 5-10 slow repetitions. Perform this 2-5 times, take a break for 40-60 seconds before repeating again.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, concludes: “Even if you don’t feel able to complete all the activities then activities such as gardening, dancing, some simple chair or bed based stretches, a light stroll around the garden or in different rooms in the house are all good pick-me-ups. Something as simple as standing up regularly can help. Never underestimate the difference even a small amount of movement can make.”
“Setting small goals and achieving them, even when living with certain health conditions or physical or mobility challenges. At the same time, it is important to stay safe and know your personal limits, regardless of age.”