When we think of keeping fit we probably conjure up images of the Green Goddess, Olympians or Zumba classes. Which can make keeping fit if you struggle to get out of your chair or walk round the garden seem like an impossible task. And don’t forget to check with your doctor before starting any form of new exercise to make sure it’s safe to do so.
Do What You Can
The trick is to learn what you are capable of and build on that. By gradually trying to increase the amount of activity you do you can still tone up your muscles and strengthen your heart and lungs which is important for keeping healthy and retaining as much mobility as you can through your twilight years. Little and often can reap more benefits than trying to fit a dedicated half-hour workout in occasionally.
Can’t walk far? Try swimming
You don’t even need to be able to swim to gain benefits from exercising in water. You may be able to get access to specialist hydrotherapy classes in small, warm pools with qualified teachers or look out for special sessions run at your local leisure centre.
Take along a friend or your home help to help you get in and out of the pool and assist you with getting dressed. If you find steps and stairs difficult ask if the pool has walk-in access or if you can use a hoist.
Can’t stand for long? Try seated exercises
Whether you’re confined to a wheelchair or simply a bit unsteady on your feet there are several exercises that can be safely attempted from a seated position.
A pedal exerciser – basically an exercise bike in miniature – can be useful to keep your legs moving but can be heavy to lift into place so it’s a good idea if you can ask your in home care assistant to give you a hand positioning it. A few minutes in one direction followed by a few minutes in reverse will improve circulation which in turn can reduce joint pain and stiffness. Some can be lifted onto a table and used to exercise your arms and upper body too.
Small weights that you can comfortably hold one handed can help you strengthen your arm muscles. There’s no need to go out and buy special ones – a couple of partly filled milk bottles or cans of baked beans are more than adequate.
Strengthening exercises are best done in the form of sets. Repeat the exercise several times – only last one or two repetitions should be more difficult to complete than the first couple – then rest. When starting out you may only do one set of five or six repetitions, but you can build up to longer sets and more sets over several weeks.