Over 70? Our Guide To Staying Fit & Active At Home During Self Isolation
Whilst you’re self-isolating, we’ll be bringing you information and support to help you stay active and improve wellbeing.
Here, Nancy our physiotherapist at ElWell has written about the best strength and balance exercises that the over 70s can do at home to stay fit and active during the coming weeks and months. That’s also Nancy in the photos demonstrating them! We’ll be adding videos shortly too.
Many of you may already be familiar with these exercises from strength and balance classes you’ve attended or advice from your physiotherapist.
These exercises can be done anywhere in the house, as long as you feel steady and well enough to do them.
We’ve included how they can be progressed and / or modified too. And also thought about what equipment you may have at home that could be used if you’re feeling up to it (cans of food for example).
All these muscle strengthening exercises are general advice. You know your body the best so if you don’t feel able to do one or all, then please don’t. Look after yourself.
Benefits Of Exercise For Over 70s: Why Exercise When Self Isolating?
Self-isolation and stopping non-essential contact is going to be hard, and it’s important to keep our strength (both mentally and physically) up during this time. Regular exercise is one way to help with this.Did you know that the over 65s have the most to gain from keeping fit and exercising?
Did you know that the over 65s have the most to gain from keeping fit and exercising?
This is because, even during normal times, they are more likely to be sedentary than other age groups.
Any change from a sedentary lifestyle to a moderately active one makes a big difference to your health. And the more you do, the greater the senior health benefits.
So making a real effort to exercise during self-isolation will help.
Doing these muscle strengthening exercises two to three times a week can make you stronger, meaning you are less likely to fall at home. If you want to read more about falls prevention, we’ve got some articles here.
How To Exercise At Home When You’re Over 70
Here are my favourite, tried and tested exercises to help improve balance and strength at home.
Working on these will help you improve your mobility and independence around the house.
Strength And Balance Exercises For Over 70s
Equipment needed: a kitchen unit or sturdy chair
You just need to hold on to your kitchen unit or sturdy chair.
Stand parallel to the unit and hold on lightly for support with the closest hand.
Place one foot in front of the other, touching heel to toe.
Continue for the length of the kitchen unit, and then turn around.
Progression: When you feel able, only apply a light touch to the unit, or remove your hand from there completely.
Repeat 10 times.
Hold onto a sturdy chair with both hands and stand tall.
Lift your heels off the floor, taking your weight through the front part of your feet.
Hold for three seconds, then slowly lower your heels to the floor.
Repeat 10 times.
Sit To Stand
Equipment needed: sturdy chair with arms
This exercise helps with mobility getting in and out of a chair (as well as getting up from the toilet and out of bed). It strengthens leg, core and back muscles.
Sit with your hips on the edge of the chair, arms resting lightly on the chair arms.
Bring your toes back to underneath your knees.
Lean forward a little in the chair and push up with your arms until standing.
To sit, bend a little at the knees and lower yourself into a seated position.
Repeat 10 times.
Step Up On The Bottom Step
Equipment needed: a step or sturdy box
Stand facing the stairs, with both feet at the bottom.
Hold on to the bannister if you feel you need the support, and starting with your strongest leg, put it on the first step.
Bring your other leg up to join it.
Then bring both feet back to the starting position, starting with the strongest leg again.
Repeat 10 times.
If you feel able to start with the weaker leg, repeat this process.
Strengthening Hand Dexterity
Equipment needed: a tea towel or flannel
Work on your hand movement and co-ordination with this exercise.
Get a clean tea towel or flannel and wet it completely in the sink.
Use both hands to wring it out, repeat 10 times.
Alternating Bicep Curls
Equipment needed: cans of food, full water bottles, chair without arms (if sitting)
Cans of food and full water bottles are good at-home substitutes for weights.
Stand or sit tall with your feet shoulder width apart.
Hold a weight in each arm, with arms at your side and palms facing forwards.
Keeping elbows tucked close to your sides, bend your elbow up. If you feel strong enough then do both together, or alternate arms. Repeat 10 times each arm.
Equipment needed: mat on floor, or a bed
You can either do this on the floor, or if you can’t get onto or up off the floor, then it can be done lying on your back on the bed.
It strengthens the muscles in your core, lower back, glutes and upper legs – these muscle groups help you balance so it’s important to keep them firing.
Lie on your back and relax your head and shoulder. Arms are down by your side, and knees are bent, with feet shoulder width apart.
Squeeze the muscles in your glutes and push through your heels to raise your hips off the bed.
Bring them up until a straight line is formed from your knees, your hips and shoulders. And repeat 10 times.
To modify, bring your body up only until it is comfortable – this doesn’t need to be a straight line.
Exercise Guidelines For Older Adults
The guidelines from the World Health Organisation and Chief Medical Officer state healthy older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise weekly.
We know that staying at home makes it more difficult to achieve this, and we’re compiling a blog on activities that people at home can do to reach this goal.
Remember, as we get older any exercise is better than no exercise. So keep moving and keep your spirits high.
Exercise Motivation At Home
If you’re at home with your partner (or someone else!), is it possible to exercise together? Plan which days you will do what, and this routine could help too.
Could you do FaceTime and Skype sessions with friends – virtual work outs are the future!
If you’re generally healthy, you’re already in a great position to do more daily exercise.
If you’re recovering from illness or injury, or have restricted movement, take it easier – physiotherapists recommend aiming for 10 minutes each day to start with.