Fun ways to keep elderly relatives active

Keeping fit and healthy in later life is very important for both physical and emotional wellbeing and there are a plethora of ways to make sure that your elderly relatives achieve this. Not only does it have positive effect on their day but staying active can help delay the onset of other health issues such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression or dementia and can allow them to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Physical ability and assistance can vary from person to person but luckily there are lots of ways to tailor activity intensity to maximise its effectiveness.

For those less able bodied, low level movements can be performed using equipment that allows the person to not leave their living room. For example, portable exercise pedals can be used to maintain the cardiovascular system and help keep joints and muscles loose. Yoga can also be a viable option as the array of stretches caters for all flexibility levels. Yoga is also known for its calming effects on people and can really help improve mental wellbeing in the elderly population.

Below are 4 exercises that can be completed at home to work on balance and coordination. Going out to yoga or dance classes will also work on balance whilst providing a social element and working on the cardiovascular system as well.

Before starting be sure to be wearing comfortable and breathable clothing and have a stable object or wall nearby to assist you if you begin to lose your balance and need support.

1. Sideways Walking
- Keeping the knees slightly bent and starting with legs shoulder width apart.
- Face forward and take 5-10 sideway steps to the left.
- Repeat the same number of sideways steps to the right.

2. Heel to Toe Walking
- Start stood upright with hands by your side.
- Take one step forward and place the heel of your left foot directly in front of your right foot.
- Complete the same action on the opposite side and repeat for 10-20 steps.

3. Step Ups

- Start with feet shoulder width apart stood at the base of a step/staircase
- Using your right leg push up onto the step and stand on it for 2-3 seconds
- Step back down and get back into the starting position.
- Repeat this action 10-15 times, alternating legs each step.

4. Standing on one leg

- Stand facing and wall with feet shoulder width apart.
- Using the wall for support, lift up your right foot, keeping your hips level, and stand on one leg for 10-15 secs.
- Slowly bring the leg back down and repeat again on the left leg.
- Complete 4-8 times on each leg

Additional advice and examples on stretching, core, balance and strength exercises, read this page of the NHS website.

For the more able bodied, going out on daily walks is always a sensible option especially if they can go with family or a group as it gets them out in the fresh air and helps maintain that feeling within the community.

Water aerobics or swimming can also act as a low impact way of working the cardiovascular system as well as working most muscles within the body. Swimming can also help relief mental stress as these groups tend to be engaging and very sociable. Sessions can take as little as 15 mins to start feeling the benefits.


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