For many people the idea of a keep fit regime involves some sort of celebrity fitness DVDs or frantic aerobic classes at your local leisure centre; but these images make it hard for anyone with mobility issues to ever even imagine themselves trying to get fit. If it’s hard to get out of bed, walk up the stairs or even just get in and out of your favourite armchair then the idea of even a short stroll can seem daunting, if not impossible. Too many elderly people are put off exercising because they think they will not be able to do it, but keeping fit can involve gentle exercise starting with simply moving a bit more around the house or going up the stairs when you don’t really need to. T’s a good habit worth getting in to.
Of course any exercise no matter how gentle should always be done only after checking with your doctor if you have a pre-existing medical condition. But if it is safe for you to exercise then here’s what you can do to get started and potentially change your life in your golden years.
The secret to building fitness is to understand what you can do right now and build on that – don’t worry about what other people your age can or can’t do – we are all different. Gently increase your level of activity each week as this will strengthen your muscles but also make for a healthier heart and lungs. A short walk (even just around the house or garden) – little and often – can produce surprising result – getting you more mobile and more confident in your abilities to improve your fitness.
Swimming is a great all round form of exercise for the elderly so check out your local pool and see if there are any sessions for your age group. If you don’t feel very confident at first go with a friend – or if you have home care services see if your carer could come along. Also check the access into the pool or, if necessary, whether they have a hoist (many swimming pools do).
If you are a wheelchair user (or while you build fitness to be able to walk) then there are a number of exercises that you can try while sitting down. These can help boost circulation, which will help to ease stiffness in your muscles and joints, in addition to giving your heart and lungs a good workout.
Try buying some small light weights – there are even ones that can be strapped with Velcro around your arms and ankles – a great way to improve fitness without really feeling as if you are trying! Raise your arms several times, rest and repeat. Similarly raise your lower legs (one at a time if necessary) then rest and repeat
The more often you do the exercises the easier they will become and the fitter you will get..