Many of us consider healthy eating and exercise necessary parts of our lives in order to remain both healthy and youthful. Most gym memberships are secured by individuals who consider themselves able-bodied and young enough to endure the rigours of regular workout regimens. Let it be made clear that you’re never too old for exercise. In fact, exercise is highly recommended for senior citizens!
Of course, no one would recommend a rigorous workout that involves heavy lifting for members of our elderly community. Light exercises that promote greater strength, balance and flexibility, however, should certainly be on the menu. On Livestrong.com, Mary Tolley Rhodes explains that seniors who have limited mobility can still benefit from 10-minute bouts of exercise, even if they are in wheelchairs!
Upper body exercises.
“Many strength training exercises adapt well to a seated position,” she informs, “Upper body exercises such as the bicep curl, upright row, chest press, overhead press, front shoulder raise and lateral shoulder raise can all be performed using resistance bands or dumbbells while sitting in a wheelchair.”
Such exercises will be especially helpful when transfers to and from the wheelchair are made. Many caregivers of elderly individuals in wheelchairs put undue stress on their backs when they attempt to lift the full body weights of their care recipients. A wheelchair user that can help to life himself/herself up from the seated position will be able to be transferred much more safely, and without risking injury to his/her caregiver.
Lower body exercises.
Especially because the majority of wheelchair users do little to no walking, it’s important for them to not neglect the lower regions of their bodies. The legs need to be exercised as well. This helps to promote blood circulation as well as increased strength and balance. On Caregivers.com, Kristin Angulo recommends such lower body exercises as heel lifts, leg circles, front foot lifts and knee lifts.
“Hold onto your wheelchair with both hands, one on each side,” she explains of the knee lift, “Slowly lift one knee up as high as you comfortably can and hold for 3 seconds then gently place your foot back on the floor by lowering your knee. Repeat 3-4 times then switch to your opposite knee.”
Don’t forget to stretch!
Understandably, some seniors may not necessarily have the strength to perform even the lightest of exercises. A moderately active lifestyle, however, still has health benefits for them. Stretching is one way to get the body moving so that muscle stiffness and soreness can be avoided.
“Shoulder muscles often become tight in the senior years,” explains Rhodes, “Raise your arm as high as you can in front of you. You can use your other arm, a cane or broomstick to help push the arm being stretched a little further. You can also stretch your shoulder using the same technique but raising your arm out to the side.”
At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we’re dedicated to the health and well-being of our clients. We offer both manual wheelchairs and power wheelchairs among many other high-quality mobility solutions to help keep seniors safe. For more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!