Rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis. Gout. Fibromyalgia. These painful bone and nerve disorders plague people of all ages, but especially older adults. Even simple movements can produce pain, which means exercises and stretches go by the wayside in lieu of rest.
But arthritis exercises for seniors can actually help alleviate the pain of these diseases and disorders as they work to retain their musculature and mobility.
For your loved one, rely on a home health agency’s physical or occupational therapist, plus these valuable resources, for identifying gentle exercises for seniors to help them stay active and lead a fulfilling life.
Chair Yoga Is a Gentle Exercise for Seniors
Chair yoga is an exercise performed using a chair for support. Rather than utilizing traditional yoga poses, they’re modified for seniors with limited mobility, strength, and balance.
Like traditional yoga, chair yoga can help improve flexibility, concentration, and strength, while providing stretching exercises for seniors. It’s especially important to remember to never attempt a yoga pose that causes pain – and the same goes for seniors participating in chair yoga.
Most senior centers and assisted living facilities offer basic chair yoga classes to residents and visitors; check with your local organizations for details.
Something as Simple as Walking Keeps Seniors Active
Older adults who are still relatively steady on their feet may choose walking as a form of gentle exercise for seniors. Walking not only helps maintain leg and core strength, but it also increases your heart rate – proof that it’s a cardiovascular exercise – and can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Walking can also release hormones like endorphins, which helps you feel more energetic and happy.
Seniors need not walk for distance or speed; simply walking for 30 minutes, three times per week is likely adequate for their needs. The best part of this exercise routine is that it does not require special equipment or a gym membership; if your loved one lives near a sidewalk, they can take up walking for exercise.
Balance Exercises Can Prevent Falls
Building balance and the fine muscles in joints like the ankles and feet can help prevent falls that could cause major injuries in senior citizens.
In fact, balance exercises can also help improve posture and coordination – both of which may bring relief to elderly patients with certain types of arthritis.
Swimming Is an Ideal Exercise for Seniors with Arthritis
Swimming and water exercises are low impact and gentle on the joints, making it one of the best gentle exercises for seniors.
Swimming and water aerobics or walking can strengthen the heart and improve overall cardiovascular health. As a result, the elderly may experience lowered blood pressure and better circulation.
Always Ask Your Loved One’s Doctor Whether Exercises for Seniors with Arthritis Are Safe
Everyone’s health and capabilities are different, which is why older adults should consult with their physician before starting any form of exercise regimen. Although gentle exercises for seniors can seem harmless, if not performed correctly, they can still lead to injury. A physician can clear your loved one to participate, or suggest alternatives that will be safer or more comfortable.
Your loved one’s physician may even recommend partnering with a physical or occupational therapist through a home health agency to improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination, and to reduce arthritis-related pain.
During physical therapy, your loved one can engage in exercises for seniors with arthritis in an environment conducive to their safety, under the guidance of a professional. This ensures each stretch, lift, bend, twist, and step is made properly and reduces the risk of injury.
Physical therapists will design plans tailored especially to your loved one’s needs and deliver them slowly over time, using progressive techniques.
How to Find a Physical Therapist for the Elderly
Before beginning arthritis exercises for seniors, partner with a physical therapist by contacting Phoenix Home Health, your loved one’s home health agency. Our nurse case managers will work with your loved one’s doctor to set up routinely scheduled physical therapy designed to help relieve pain and improve strength, especially after long hospitalizations or surgeries.
Our staff physical therapists will continue working with your loved one as they progress, with the eventual goal of releasing them from care when they demonstrate better balance and mobility – or whatever goals your loved one’s doctor has set for them.