7 Strength, Balance, and Flexibility Exercises for Older Adults from Go4Life

MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Some of our exercises are easy enough to do anywhere, like a park or, like Linda here, you can do them in your office. Linda you ready to do the wall push up? LINDA: Absolutely. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: What I’m gonna do is I’m going to position you. LINDA: Alright. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay so I want you to take your arms, one here. LINDA: Yes. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: And take the other one, there perfect. What you’d want to do is you’d want to have a wall or a sturdy bookcase like this. Now this is pretty sturdy we don’t have to worry about it tipping over okay. What I’d like you to do is take a little bit of a step back further. Now I want those feet shoulder-width apart. Okay draw the abs in, shoulders back. Now these are going to strengthen your arms, shoulders and your chest. Okay, so as you’re going in I’d like you to breathe in, hold it for 1 second in that bent elbow position and push back out. And breathe out as you do it. Okay here we go breathe in, 2, just one more, here we go, 1. Now can you feel that your shoulders? LINDA: Yes definitely and the upper arms as well. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Great, you did an excellent job. LINDA: Well thank you very much. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Now is this something that you could see yourself doing it at the job? LINDA: Definitely. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: And it didn’t take very much time either did it? LINDA: No, it didn’t. MS. SANDY MAGRATH:The next strength exercise is the overhead arm raise. This will help strengthen your shoulders and arms and help with activities like swimming, gardening, and even golf, as Carol will agree. CAROL: It certainly can. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Now this is an easy exercise to complete. You can stand here like Carol or you can sit in a chair with no arms. Okay, you ready, Carol? Carol: I am. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay. Grab two evenly weighted objects. Cans of soup, water bottles or even your own body weight. I’m going to demonstrate. So, what you’re going to do, Carol, is draw those abs in tight. Feet are shoulder-width apart which is it’s pretty good. Turn those arms out so either like this, perfect and you’re going to take it up and take it down. So, we’re good. Normally you would do 10 to 15 of these- and bring it down and take it up. Now today we’re just gonna do 10 okay? CAROL: Ok. MS SANDY MAGRATH: And take it up, and down. Now if you have arthritis, what you can do is you can always just strap on wrist weights so that way you can make it a bit more challenging. Let’s do 2 more and let’s do 1 more. Okay take it down. Relax, now Carol, that was really great except for one thing. CAROL: Oh no. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: You forgot to breathe. That’s why we stopped before we went to 15. Okay now, the general rule of thumb is when you’re going up which is the upward movement is the exertion breathing out, hold for one second, breathe normal, and breathe in as you come back down. The last upper-body strength exercise that Grisel is going to demonstrate is the chair dip. Now this happens to be one of my favorite exercises, Grisel. So what we’re going to do is I’d like you to step in front of the chair and what you need is a really strong sturdy chair. Okay? This one looks pretty good. GRISEL: Yes it does. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Go ahead. And you’ve got to make sure that it’s not going to move. So go ahead. I’d like you to stand in front of the chair. Shoulder-width apart with the feet, have a seat. I like the way you grab those arms. That’s exactly what you’re going to be doing. Now we’re going to take your abs in, shoulders back. Nice straight back for me, okay? GRISEL. Okay. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: So you’re breathing out on the up, and take it up, and you’re breathing in on the down. Now, I like the way you’re doing this because you’re not locking your elbows. So be sure not to lock your elbows. Take it up again and take it down. Now what I want to do with one is I want you to relax those shoulders just a little bit but keep them back. Draw the abs in nice and tight. Push it up. Now when you’re doing these you do 10 to 15 of these exercises. Rest, and then do a second set of 10 to 15. So let’s keep going. And take it down. Perfect, I like that that slow steady motion that you’re doing. This next lower body strength exercise is the chair stand. Mitter here is going to help demonstrate. So, what I want you to do, position your feet shoulder-width apart. MITTER: Like this? MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Perfect. Draw the abs in tight Shoulders back, a nice straight back. Okay, cross your arms. Now if you have any back or knee problems you should probably talk to your doctor, but you’re okay with that, right? MITTER: I’m fine. MS SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, let’s lean back. Draw the abs in tight- here we go. Bring it up, take your arms out so they’re parallel with the floor. Breathe out on the up and take it down. Breathing in as you go down. Once again cross the arms, lean back, okay, great. Bring it up. And take it down. Your form is very good. Okay. Arms out, take it up, down, cross, back, relax. How’s that feel? MITTER: Pretty good, a little tired but feel good. Especially my muscles and my stomach. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Good, that’s what we wanted to do, want it to feel. How’d the legs feel? MITTER: Pretty good. Strong. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Balance exercises are very important so important that you can do them as often as you like, everyday if you can. What you need is a sturdy chair which we’ve got here. George and Yvonne, you’re going to demonstrate standing on one leg. This is a balance exercise and balance, like everything else, can be improved with practice. So, what I want you to do, hands-on both, just how you’ve got it. Your’re going to draw your abs in your feet are shoulder-width apart. Pull those shoulders back, head is up. Holding on, you’re going to lift one leg at a time holding for 10 seconds. Now we would normally do 10 to 15 of these; we’re going to do 10 today. And take it back up Ten seconds can seem like a long time, doesn’t it? GEORGE: It does. MS SANDY MAGRATH: Perfect, one more time. So, as you get more steady and more comfortable with this, you can make it more challenging by taking it just to one hand. Okay, so how did that feel? YVONNE: It felt okay. MS SANDY MAGRATH: Practice it every day and it doesn’t have to be just you know with a sturdy chair- it’s a good place to start with- but you can use the countertop, a tree you can you know any place where you’ve got a study object. So you think you’ll do this? YVONNE: I think so, yeah. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: George? GEORGE: I need to. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, well, that’s see that’s the first step. Jim this is a stretching exercise that’s going to help your back, okay? JIM: Right. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, so what I want you to do let’s go ahead and sit forward in the chairs. I want you to relax everything, relax your shoulders, take a nice deep breath in. Now if you’ve had back surgery this might not be a stretch you want to do unless you talk to your doctor first. Now, you’re okay with that aren’t you? JIM: I’m OK. MS SANDY MAGRATH: Perfect, okay, well, head up, abs in, pull the shoulders back for me what I’d like you to do is reach back with your left hand and take the right hand on the outside of the left thigh, and twist, turning and holding. I want you to take another nice deep breath and just relax into the stretch and what we’re going to do is we’re going to hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, but for today we’re just gonna hold it for 10 seconds. And we’re gonna bring it back to face forward. How does that feel? Can you feel a little bit of a stretch? JIM: Yeah. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay well you look like you’re pretty good. So let’s take it back, left hand back again, right hand on the outside of the left thigh and stretch, turning. Once again take a nice deep breath just to relax into the stretch. Now you would do this 3 to 5 times on each side. So we’re going to do it one more time. So take it back to the forward position and OK, here we go, last time. And reach over with the right hand, and stretch back, and hold for 5, 4, 3, 2 and bring it back to the forward position. Okay, you ready to do the other side? JIM: Yeah. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Now, how did that feel? Was that, do you think you can make that stretch a little bit more? I mean, can you make a little bit more intense? JIM: Absolutely, let’s do it. MS SANDY MAGRATH: Okay let’s take it, here we go. This time instead of just reaching the back of the chair like this, what we’re going to do is reach way up high turning and just doing the same stretch but reaching a little bit further back. Okay, now your goal is to hold that stretch for about 30 seconds. So, but once again we’re just holding for about 10 seconds, and we’re going to go ahead and come back to the face forward position. How’d that, can you feel the intensity? JIM: Yeah. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Can you feel a little stretch in that back? JIM: A little stretch, it feels good. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay let’s take it back again here we go. Reaching that all the way to the back of the chair, and turning keeping those shoulders back, abs in, nice deep breath, and back to that forward position. We’ve got one more to go Jim, okay? Here we go take it back, way up high on that back of the chair, and hold for 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. Back to face forward. OK, you think you can add that to your routine everyday? JIM: Absolutely. MS SANDY MAGRATH: It’s a great, it’s a great stretch. Jerry, we’re going to do three exercises today. The first exercise is going to be the getting down on the floor exercise. The second one stretching the backs of the legs or your hamstrings. The third one will be getting back up off the floor. Now these are important movements because you need them in everyday life. Because how often do you need to get up and down off the floor? JERRY: Enough. MS SANDY MAGRATH: Yeah, well, you need them to get down on the floor if you want to play with your grandkids, or what if you drop something? JERRY: Oh, I do that all the time. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: That’s right. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take it one step at a time, very slowly. I want you to grasp the chair on both sides of the chair. JIM: Okay MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Take your right knee down to a bent knee. Go ahead take that left leg down to a bent knee position We’re going to reach out with our left hand rolling your hips down. Take it to a reclined position back to your elbows, straighten those legs out for me, and just go ahead and take it all the way down. Comfortable? JERRY: Mmhmm. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, good, that was a great job. What we’re going to do next is the hamstring stretch, or the back of the leg stretch. So, what I want you to do take that left leg, bring it to a bent-knee position, foot flat on the floor. We’re going to bring that right leg up straight. As you bring it up it’s going to bend slightly, grab behind the calf muscle. Give a slight tug, just a slight tension now, breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, relax. Hold that stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and we’re going to take it back down. We’re going to do it again. So, we’re gonna take that leg to a straight leg position. Bring that right leg up as it comes up it’s going to slightly bend grab behind the calf muscle if you can reach it. And bring it to slight tension, as you’re bringing it forward, I want you to take a nice deep breath in through your nose, out through your mouth, relax. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Let’s go ahead and take that leg back down. Now, as you’re taking it back down, you can take it to a straight leg or a bent knee. Now we’re going to bring it back up. Grab behind the calf, in through your nose out through your mouth, relax, hold 10 to 30 seconds and take it down. Now what we’re going to do is we’re going to go ahead and do the other leg. So, let’s straighten both legs out, bring that right leg up a bent knee position now. Foot flat on floor, bring the left leg up straight, let it bend, grab behind the calf. Bring it to slight tension, breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, relax, hold 10 to 30 seconds. Take it back down. How’d that feel? JERRY: Good. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: Good, okay, Jerry, that was a great job. So, here’s what we need to do. We need to get back up off the floor. JERRY: Okay. MS. SANDY MAGRATH: OK, so let’s go up to a bent elbow position, kind of like you watch TV. Lean over to your left side, roll over, take the right hand just so you can get up to your knees position. Press the outside of both with both hands, take the right leg up, left leg up, draw the abs in tight, stand up straight and good job.

4 thoughts on “7 Strength, Balance, and Flexibility Exercises for Older Adults from Go4Life

  1. These look like good, doable exercises. Thanks! I found this info on the benefits of short bursts of high-intensity exercise for older adults very interesting as well. https://www.responsive-homecare.com/aging-muscles-benefit-high-intensity-training/

  2. These are some great strength, flexibility and balance exercises. When looking for low impact exercise suggestions for seniors, I found these stretching exercises helpful as well: http://anthemhomecare.com/daily-stretching-routine/

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