Could you use a bit of pep in your step? This time at home is making it hard for many to get their normal exercise routine in. But it’s extra important for older adults to be diligent in taking care of their health. Exercise is good for bone and muscle strength, boosts your immune system, gets your heart rate up, and improves your mental health. So don’t surrender to the couch just yet! There are plenty of ways to get your body moving right on your living room floor. Try these at-home exercises that don’t require any equipment:
Always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercises if you have any heart issues, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, kidney problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, or are being treated for cancer.
The Bird Dog
If your knees are in good shape, get down on all fours and try the Bird Dog move! This exercise improves your core stability and helps keep your spine in proper alignment. Once you are on your hands and knees, make sure your spine is in a neutral position. Practice lifting one hand off the ground and reaching out in front of you while keeping your other hand and knees touching the ground. Then, practicing stretching out one leg at a time. Now you’re ready to do the full move.
Return to all fours and extend your left hand and right leg out. Imagine a straight line extending all the way from your left hand to the end of your right foot. Take a few deep breaths, lower your arm and leg, and start again — this time with your right hand and left foot extended. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
Don’t let the word “push-up” intimidate you! Wall push-ups are a simple, yet effective way to strengthen your chest and shoulders. Stand a few feet away from a blank wall with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms straight out from your shoulders and place your hands shoulder-distance apart on the wall. Lean your weight forward and push up on your toes, keeping your body in a straight diagonal line (imagine a standing plank position). Exhale as you push away from the wall to extend your arms, then inhale as you lean your chest forward again. Repeat 5-10 times.
Practice balance and strengthen your legs, hips, lower back, and buttocks through leg raises. Rest your hands on the top of a kitchen chair or on your kitchen counter, making sure there is room on both your left and right side.
Before you begin, take a deep breath and stand tall, placing your feet hip-width apart. Proper posture will ensure you get the most out of this exercise. Lift your right leg out to the side, slowly shifting your weight on to your left leg. Your left leg should be slightly bent in order to support your weight. Take a few breaths with your right leg extended, then bring it back to the center. Repeat this exercise five times on your right leg. After you’ve done five repetitions, center both feet back on the ground and take another breath. Now you’re ready to extend out your left leg, shifting your weight to your right leg. Repeat five times.
If you need help holding yourself accountable for exercising, try adding them to an already-established habit. You might do leg raises at the kitchen table after finishing breakfast, for example. Or, video chat with a friend and do the exercises together! Remember, every little bit counts. You’re on your way to strengthening your body, and in turn, boosting your mental health too!