Swimming is a low impact form of exercise that benefits the whole body.
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Exercise is a vital component of retaining health and vigor well into your senior years. Even modest amounts of exercise can reap tangible benefits for the whole body. Always consult with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or if you take medication. Warm-up before exercising with five to 10 minutes of activity, such as an easy walk.
Also known as endurance activity, aerobic activity benefits the cardiovascular system, supporting heart health and helping to burn calories and form muscle. For older adults, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends at least 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week, performed at least three days a week. If that's not possible, aim for at least 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity to gain benefits. Low-impact aerobic activities that are easy on the joints include walking, swimming, cycling and golf, as long as you walk rather than take a cart.
The knee curl is a simple exercise that strengthens the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the upper legs. Knee curls can be done in your own home with the aid of a sturdy chair. Stand behind a chair, gripping the back for balance and lift your right leg out straight behind you. Inhale slowly, then breathe out and start to bend your right heel up towards your right buttock, keeping your left leg slightly bent. Hold for one second and inhale as you lower your foot back to the floor with control. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch legs. After you've done both legs, repeat again 10 to 15 times with each leg.
To strengthen your arms and shoulders, sit in a sturdy, armless chair with a pair of light 2- or 3-pound dumbbells. As you gain strength, you may use a heavier set of 5- or 8-pound dumbbells if you can lift them comfortably. With your feet flat on the floor, hold the weights at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Inhale and, as you exhale, raise both arms slowly up over your head, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Hold for one second, inhale and lower your arms. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then rest and repeat another 10 to 15 times.
Improving your balance can reduce your risk of falling, helping to prevent injury and maintain coordination. Balance exercises can be as simple as walking backwards or sideways or walking on your heels or toes. Always practice your balance exercises where you can reach something stable if you need to catch yourself. Harvard Medical School recommends practicing a single-leg stance. Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides, and lift your right foot a few inches off the floor by bending your right knee. Aim to hold your right foot up for five to 30 seconds. Lower your leg and repeat on the left side. Repeat the exercise once or twice more on each side, aiming to improve the length of time you can hold your foot up.