By Ashley Perez, Physical Therapy Assistant
Home Health, San Antonio
A new year is the perfect time to set new fitness goals and make a commitment to your health. As we age, it is important to stay active to maintain our health and mobility. Exercise can help us improve our cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility and balance. It can also reduce our risk of falls, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
If you are new to exercise or have not been active in a while, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time. Listen to your body and stop exercising if you feel pain. Use proper form to avoid injuries, always exercise in a well-lit area and try to avoid working out alone.
Here are four exercise routines you can do at home to improve your fitness:
Walking is one of the best exercises for older adults. A low-impact activity that can be done at any fitness level, walking can help to improve your heart health, strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. Aim for 30 minutes of walking most days of the week. If you are new to walking, start with shorter walks and gradually increase the distance as you get more comfortable.
- Strength training
Strength training can help build muscle mass, which can help to improve your balance. It can also help strengthen your bones, which may prevent osteoporosis.
- Single-leg bridge: Lie on your back, lift one leg, hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat with other leg.
- Wall sit: Stand with your back against a wall, lower until knees are bent 90 degrees. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Chair push-ups: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, hands on the edge of the seat. Push yourself up until your arms are straight, then lower yourself back down. Repeat 10 times.
- Bicep curls: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows and curl the weights up to your shoulders, then slowly lower them back down. Repeat 10 times.
- Balance exercises
As we age, our balance can start to decline. Balance exercises can help improve your coordination and reduce your risk of falls. These exercises can be done twice a day:
- Standing on one leg while brushing your teeth. (10-15 seconds per leg)
- Walking heel-to-toe. (10-15 steps)
- Sitting on a chair and swinging your legs back and forth. (10-15 swings)
- Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly shifting your weight from one foot to the other (10-15 seconds)
- Flexibility exercises
Flexibility exercises are low-impact and gentle on your joints. Start with stretching your hamstrings, calves and back. Some good options include:
- Chair yoga
- Tai chi
Check to see if your health insurance plan includes a senior center membership, where there may be low-impact fitness classes you can join during the week.
Try to do these exercises at least twice a week to improve your overall health and fitness. And don’t forget to warm up before your workout and cool down afterwards. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise programs. If the exercise causes you pain, stop doing it.
Start your new year with a commitment to your health. Make a plan, set realistic goals and do not give up. Your journey to a healthier you begins now.
Ashley Perez is a Physical Therapy Assistant at Home Health in San Antonio, TX. She is passionate about helping people get back to moving and living their best lives. Ashley believes that exercise is essential for a healthy mind and body, and she is committed to helping her patients achieve their goals. She has worked at the San Antonio, TX location for 9 years and focuses on the geriatric population in the Home Health setting.