Staying strong as you age is critical to helping you stay in the work force and allow you to keep doing what you want and need to do. It is important to focus on exercise programs that are likely to enhance performance of daily activities such as getting out of a chair and climbing stairs rather than seated exercises which are often seen as a ‘safe’ option. Exercises focusing on daily activities are also more likely to improve balance and help prevent falls. It is also important to consider exercises that can be incorporated into your everyday lifestyle, so you remember to do them.
The following 2 exercises are central to many programs a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist may prescribe to help someone stay strong:
1. Sit to stand. This is probably the most important exercise anyone can do to help maintain their independence. It helps strengthen the lower limbs and abdominals, and we know that once you lose the ability to get out of a chair by yourself then you lose your independence.
– Start in a seated position.
– Bring your bottom to the edge of the chair with your feet underneath you.
– Try to do this exercise without using your hands.
– Stand up until you are completely upright and then gradually sit back down.
– Control this movement and then repeat.
– If you do need to use your hands, try to limit their use as much as you comfortably can.
2. Step ups. This exercise helps keep the legs strong as well as helps balance.
– Stand in front of a stair or step.
– Place one foot up onto the step and then follow with the other foot.
– Step back down to the start position using the same leading leg.
– Make sure your knee travels forwards over your toes during this exercise. Repeat, starting with the other leg.
My key piece of advice to help you stick to your exercise program is to be realistic. Set small goals. In the beginning, outline achievable goals – ones that you can keep up with. The aim is to establish an exercise habit by setting up a schedule you will stick to. So, set the bar low to begin with, then build on it once you have established a habit of it.
Hope this helps. Have a great day! Deb