Getting older is inevitable but feeling old isn’t! Exercise is the biggest anti-aging panacea. And the best news is that it’s never too late to begin.

If you’re new to exercise, check with your doctor first. Start slowly, building up gradually.

Here are the 5 best exercises for elderly: 

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1. Strength training maintains muscle and bone strength.

As we age, muscle mass decreases lowering metabolic rate. Bone density is also lowered which makes seniors prone to fractures.

To reduce these common problems (which can lead to arthritis, back pain, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and even depression), train with weights two times a week.

I also recommend simple functional exercises that are weight-bearing in natural ways. For instance try a few chair dips:

• Sit in a well-built chair with arms, feet flat on the floor.

• With your back straight, press hands on the chair arms.

• Push off the chair slowly and hold for 2 seconds. Bend your knees and dip lower, hold for another second.

• Slowly push yourself back onto the chair.

• Repeat 6-8 times. Rest. Repeat 6-8 times.

2. Balance training preserves mobility and independence.

To reduce the risk of falls or unsteadiness, practice balancing exercises often. Most can be done anywhere at any time; while brushing your teeth, watching TV, waiting in line at the grocery story. Here’s one:

• Lean against a chair, wall, checkout counter(!) or anything stationary.

• Lift your right foot, balance on left foot for 10 seconds. Lower.

• Lift your left foot, balance on the right for 10 seconds. Lower.

• If you feel confident, try without leaning.

• When advanced, lift each foot, rotate clockwise 6 times, then counterclockwise 6 times. Work up to 10 rotations.

3. Endurance training is critical for cardio and aerobic fitness.

You can get good results from walking, dancing, swimming, cycling, tennis or pickle ball. Or try mini-trampolines or rebounders which deliver low impact and high results.

It’s best to do 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic 4-5 times a week or vigorous intensity for 20 minutes 3 times a week.

To get the most endurance benefits in the shortest time, try interval training. It consists of short bursts of high intensity activity followed by a brief recovery period. Here’s interval walking:

• After a brief warm, walk as fast as you possibly can for 1 minute. You shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation.

• Then slow to a brisk walk for 30 seconds, allow your breath to resume so that you can talk.

• Repeat for 15 minutes (which can have the benefits of ½ hour of cardio!)

As you improve, increase the length of the intervals to 2 minutes of high intensity and 1 minute of recovery.

4. Flexibility training is vital to avoid stiffness and ensure good range of motion.

Flexibility exercises are slow and deliberate stretches with elongated mindful breathing such as in Qigong, Tai Chi, Pilates, or my online Yoga: Body-Mind Builder

An efficient routine to use is a Qigong warm up series which gently activates an energetic flow through all your joints. These exercises can be done daily in less than 10 minutes:

• Stand tall with feet hip width apart.

• Neck—With steady breath, bring chin to chest and let your head hang like a heavy weight for a full breath. Then slowly rotate your head clockwise 360-degrees until you return to the front. Take a full 45 to 60 seconds for the full rotation. Next rotate counter-clockwise, and relax.

• Shoulders—Raise both shoulders up towards the ears, then rotate them back and around to the front, 2-3 times slowly. Next, circle them forward and around to the back, 2-3 times slowly.

• Wrists—Extend your right arm straight in front. With your left hand, gently pull back all the fingers of the right hand. Inhale, as you exhale release, press your hand forward and down. Repeat 2-3 times. Repeat on the other side.

• Elbows—Extend arms straight in front in preparation for arm circles. Press your palms out to the sides, circling them around so that the palms circle around to face the front of your chest. Continue rotating them, press forward to the starting point. Repeat 2-3 times.

• Hips—Keep knees slightly flexed, press your pelvis forward, then to the right, back, to the left and around to the front. Repeat 2-3 times. Then rotate counter-clockwise.

• Knees—Place both hands on your knees and slowly rotate both knees in a clockwise direction 2-3 times and then counterclockwise.

• Ankles—Use the exercise described above under Balance Training.

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5. Mental Training is every bit as important as physical exercises in turning back time.

Sometimes aches and pains cause us to stop exercising and then we age even more quickly. As long as you have your doctor’s approval (and no major disabilities), you can change the way you feel by exercising at any age. If you believe you’re old, you convey those beliefs to every cell in your body. To reverse those patterns, try the following:

Visualize an age when you felt at your best physically. Remember how you moved, how your muscles reacted, your stamina. Now close your eyes for a few moments and imagine yourself in that younger body. How does it look? What colors do you see? What are you wearing? What’s around you? What do you hear, smell, even taste? Once you have fully recreated a fit image of you, then open your eyes. Take a deep breath and understand that you just activated an inner dimension that encourages healing and homeostasis within your body. Repeat daily.

The more active you are on a regular basis, the more you increase energy, control stress, regulate insulin, reduce disease, and release toxins. As a last piece of advice, it’s good to vary your exercises from day to day. For instance, if you do strength training one day, opt for endurance training the next. Clearly exercise helps you age more gracefully and maintain vitality along with the ability to enjoy all of life’s pleasures.

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