Exercises every senior should know

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At any age, exercise does the body good and boosts mental well-being. According to the National Institutes of Health, seniors who are active can manage disease and improve strength and balance to make everyday activities more enjoyable.

The Terraces of Boise literally makes physical exercise part of its landscape. Just outside the door, the Boise River Greenbelt Park path beckons hikers and bikers to utilize its natural gymnasium. The community also offers a range of guided fitness classes including tai chi and SilverSneakers aerobics. These classes offer our residents the opportunity to address the four types of exercise a mature body needs to maintain mobility and independence:

  • endurance
  • strength
  • balance
  • flexibility 

While residing at the Terraces allows individuals to take advantage of community fitness options, you can also get started by yourself by engaging in the array of different techniques below.

ENDURANCE. Aerobic activity strengthens the lungs and heart. The more you do it, the greater your capacity for all types of exercise. Besides fitness walks on the nearby park path, hiking, biking and kayaking trips organized by the Terraces provide more ways to build endurance.

Example: Walking

Harvard Medical School calls walking one of the “best exercises you can ever do.” Start by walking for 10 minutes, up to three times a day, until you can enjoy a 30- to 60-minute walk most days of the week.

STRENGTH. Activities that build muscle mass can prevent or reverse the loss of skeletal muscle, a condition called sarcopenia. This progressive weakness condition can lead to painful muscle tears and accidents. The good news is that muscle mass can be rebuilt through regular strength and resistance exercises. 

Example: Squats with Alternating Reach

As a precaution, place a chair behind you, but don’t bend so far that you actually sit on it. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms straight out in front, palms down. Squat down as if you’re going to sit on the chair. Keep your chest wide, and don’t let your knees bend past your toes.

As you lower into the squat, reach your left hand across your body and rotate slightly to the right. Bring your arms back to center as you come up to stand. Reach in the other direction with the next squat. Work up to 10 to 15 repetitions on each side, and add hand weights for further challenge. 

BALANCE. Balance declines with age due to loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility, as well as reduced vision and reaction time. The Terraces residents can pursue better balance and strength in tai chi classes. This Chinese martial art is now a popular fitness activity that emphasizes slow, graceful movements.

Example: One-Leg Stand

Using a chair or counter for support, lift one foot comfortably from the ground and balance for 10 to 15 seconds on the other foot. Increase the challenge by lifting fingers from the support, lifting the free leg to the side, or closing one or both eyes after your foot is suspended. 

FLEXIBILITY. Studies show that both men and women lose significant flexibility and range of motion as they age, particularly in the shoulders and hips. Stretching just a few times per week can reduce the likelihood of muscle injury during everyday movements, such as fastening a seatbelt.

Example: Shoulder and Upper Arm Stretch

Stand or sit forward on a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding one end of a towel in your right hand. Raise and bend your right arm to drape the towel down your back, and hold it there. Reach behind your lower back and grasp the towel with your left hand, then pull down gently. Stop when you feel a slight stretch in your right shoulder. Reverse positions to stretch the left shoulder. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side. 

Whether you’re a fitness expert or an enthusiastic beginner, any type of workout regimen can increase your quality of life, whether it is physical or mental. Find an exercise partner to keep you accountable in reaching your goals and remember that progress takes time. A balanced life is important, and the staff at the Terraces is here to support you in reaching your goals for your well-being.

Contact us today to discuss how the Terraces could be a great place for you to continue living your best life.

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