Exercise and staying fit and healthy can become more difficult as you get older. We all know that moving more is good for us, but we may not know the best ways that work for us.
Here are some simple, yet effective exercises and stretches that you can try from the comfort of your own home. Some of them can be done seated, which can be an excellent place to start if you have any mobility issues or want to reduce the risk of falling.
Improving your strength and balance can help to prevent slips and falls, decrease joint pain and stiffness, and improve your mobility. Regular activity can also be beneficial to your mental health. It’s never too late to get started, and there is something for everyone!
This exercise is great for building core strength.
- Sit on the edge of a chair, with your feet hip-width apart, and lean forwards slightly.
- Stand up slowly using only your legs, not your arms.
- Stand up straight and then slowly sit back down.
- Repeat slowly.
Another strength exercise, this one works the back of your lower legs.
- Stand up straight behind a chair, resting your hands on it for stability.
- Slowly lift both heels off the floor, as far as comfortable.
- Repeat, but keep it slow.
- For a greater challenge, try without the chair for support.
This can help improve core strength, as well as balance and posture.
- Stand up straight and lift your arms out to the side.
- Walk in a straight line while focussing on a single point in the distance.
- Each time you raise your foot, hold it off the ground for 2-3 seconds.
- Try to take 20-30 steps.
Marching with a walker
This can help improve strength and balance by using your walking frame.
- Stand with both hands on your walker.
- Lift one knee as high as you can.
- Lower it and repeat with the other knee.
- Repeat 10 times, alternating sides.
Back leg raises
This exercise can help strengthen your buttocks and lower back.
- Stand up straight behind a chair, holding the back of it for stability.
- Slowly lift one leg back, keeping it straight and without bending your toes.
- Hold that position for 1-2 seconds, then gently bring your leg back down.
- Repeat 10-15 times per leg.
These can help improve upper-body strength, without having to get down on the ground!
- Stand at arm’s length from a sturdy wall.
- Place your hands flat against the wall directly in front of your shoulders.
- Keeping your body straight and elbows by your side, slowly bend your arms to lean into the wall.
- Slowly push off the wall to return to your starting position.
- Repeat slowly, try 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions.
These will help build your arm strength. For this you can use resistance bands, or small, lightweight dumbbells or filled water bottles. You can also try this standing up or on a chair.
- Sit on the edge of your seat with your feet flat on the floor.
- If using a resistance band, place your feet on top of it, shoulder-width apart.
- Grab the handles, or your weights, palms facing upward.
- Slowly curl your hands up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows at your sides.
- Slowly lower your arms again.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10.
This exercise is a great all-rounder; it can help improve coordination, lower-body strength, balance and aerobic health. You can hold onto a wall or railing for support if needed.
- Stand in front of a staircase or step.
- Step up with your right foot, then with your left.
- Step back down with your right foot, then your left.
- Repeat for up to a minute, then swap your leading foot.
This exercise works everything from your back down to your feet, including your core, hips, buttocks, quads and calves. If you are feeling confident, you can go further with the full squat.
- Stand up behind a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold onto the chair with both hands and keep your arms out straight.
- While engaging your core, bend slightly at the hips and sit back as if you were sitting in a chair.
- Keep your chest up and back straight.
- Squat to no lower than 45 degrees, keeping your knees behind your toes.
- Stand back up slowly, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep your knees in line with your feet at all times..
- Repeat for three sets of 10 repetitions.
This simple exercise is great for working the shoulders, back and arms.
- Sit up straight and slightly forward in a chair.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you.
- Pull your elbows back behind you, like you are rowing.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your chest out.
- Repeat 10-15 times.
Good for improving flexibility, and also reducing the risk of blood clots.
- Sit up straight with your feet flat in front of you, and hold onto the sides of the chair.
- Straighten one leg with your foot off the floor, and point your toes away from you.
- Point your toes back towards you.
- Lower your leg and repeat with the other leg.
Lumbar side stretch
A simple but great way to stretch your lower back and obliques.
- Sit up straight in a chair with your shoulders relaxed.
- Place one hand behind your head and one arm straight down by your side.
- Slowly lean down with your straight arm until you can feel a stretch on the opposite side.
- Hold for five seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
This seated yoga pose can help improve posture and balance, as well as decrease back pain.
- Sit on a chair with your hand on your knees and your feet flat on the floor.
- As you inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders down and back, bringing your shoulder blades onto your back. This is the cow position.
- As you exhale, curve your spine and tuck your chin into your chest.dropping your head and shoulders forward. This is the cat position.
- Hold each pose for five seconds before alternating.
This is another seated yoga pose that will help stretch your hips and lower back, and can also help improve flexibility.
- Sit slightly forward on a chair without armrests.
- Bring your right ankle up to rest on your left thigh.
- For an even greater stretch, lean forward.
- Hold this pose for three to five breaths.
- Repeat with the left leg.
Great for improving flexibility in your lower back.
- Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart, and your arms by your sides.
- Slide one arm down your side as far as is comfortable, and hold for two seconds.
- You should feel a stretch on the opposite hip.
- Repeat with the opposite arm.
This stretch is great for improving flexibility and mobility in your neck.
- Sit in a chair with your shoulders relaxed, looking straight ahead.
- Slowly turn your head towards your left shoulder, holding for 5 seconds.
- Return to the centre, and then repeat on your right side.
- Alternate and try to do at least 3 on each side.
It is important to do some kind of physical activity each day, and any activity is better than none. Even things such as cleaning, vacuuming, making a bed or mowing the lawn could help improve your mobility and keep you stronger and healthier.
If you feel confident in doing some more moderate activities, why not try going for a brisk walk or hike, or an exercise class such as water aerobics or pilates.
Around the home there are also other ways to help if you have any issues with mobility or balance, or are at particular risk of slips and falls.
Bathing Solutions offer a great range of accessible bathroom installations, from walk-in baths and wet rooms, to walk-in showers. We offer a full bespoke service, from design to installation, with everything made to fit your needs, and products to suit every budget. So why not find out more and arrange your free home survey.