1/2 left |  Sign up for free and get unlimited access
Body, Workout plans
Life-Changing Workout Routine For The Elderly

Eddie Stern

Ashtanga Yoga Teacher, Author & Lecturer from New York City

7 min read

 

Life-Changing Workout Routine For The Elderly
Eddie Stern

It’s important to keep moving our bodies as we age. Not only do our bodies naturally start to get stiffer as the years go by, our physiological systems can slow and get stiffer, too, including our cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory systems. By performing some simple movement practices every day, combined with smooth, even breathing, we can encourage circulation, oxygen, and nutrients to reach every part of our body. The movement of the spine each day is important because our central nervous system, starting with the brain, is sending messages to the entire body through the spinal cord every second of the day. Physical activity promotes independence for self-care actions, fosters high self-esteem among older adults and leads to better life expectancy and reduced mortality. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) exercise can:

• Increase functional capacity in the elderly
• Keep some chronic diseases at bay
• Strength, flexibility & balance exercises helps to avoid falls amongst the elderly

Additionally, practicing some kind of physical activity provides stress relief and helps to increase happiness. Regular exercise increases self-confidence and enhances mobility and flexibility too! The elderly tend to lose muscle mass, leading to weakness which can negatively affect the performance of daily activities. These changes cannot be stopped in the body but can certainly be reduced. Proper balanced nutrition and exercise can enhance functional capacity which decreases with ageing.
According to statistics 30 % seniors who are above 65 years of age fall very year at least once and for those beyond 80 years of age it goes up to 50%.
As we stretch, lengthen and strengthen the spinal column we are supporting the messaging and organizing structure of our nervous system to be able to perform the literally billions of functions that it oversees each day. In total, this leaves the body feeling energized, the nervous system balanced, and the mind calm.

Here are eight beneficial exercises for the elderly to practice daily:

1.Chair Sun Salutations: This sequence is based on the traditional movements of the Sun Salutations that exercise each part of the body and create warmth that is healing and soothing for the muscles and joints. The spine is moved forward and backwards, preparing it for the other movements to follow. Each movement is done with a long, even inhale, and long even exhales.

Begin Seated Mountain.
• Inhale: Arms up.
• Exhale: Hands to knees, round back.
• Inhale: Arch back, look up.
• Exhale: Round back.
• Inhale: Arch back.
• Exhale: Round back.
• Inhale: Arms up.
• Exhale: Seated Mountain.

2.Seated Twist: After the Sun Salutations move into a twist to help stimulate digestive function and also to reverse the daily effects of gravity on the spine.
Begin Seated Mountain.
• Inhale: Arms Up.
• Exhale: Twist to right.
• Inhale: Left hand on knee, right hand on back of chair.
• Exhale: Keep twisting to right, look over right shoulder.
• Inhale: Back to center, arms up.
• Exhale: Twist to left.
• Inhale: Right hand on left knee, left hand on back of chair.
• Exhale: Keep twisting to left, look over left shoulder.
• Inhale: Return to center.
• Exhale: Seated Mountain.

3.Eagle Arms: As we age the lordosis of the upper back can begin to become more pronounced, causing us to hunch over, and propel the neck forward (which can make swallowing more difficult). The Eagle Arm sequence targets this area of the back, and encourages better posture. Also, the rounding motion of the spine in the second position helps to open the lungs that are at the back of the body, supporting deeper breathing.
Begin Cactus Arms.
• Inhale: Wrap right arm over left arm, cross right wrist around left wrist. Lift elbows, arch back, look up.
• Exhale: Round back, bring elbows to belly. Repeat 2-3 times.
• Repeat with left arm over right arm.
• Repeat: on left side.

4.Neck and Shoulder Stretch: The poses begin to continue the work of the Eagle Arms, stretching the neck and upper chest area, opening the top part of the lungs, and releasing tension from the neck.
Begin Seated Mountain.
• Inhale: Interlace finger and place hand under chin.
• Exhale: Tilt head back, pressing hands into chin.
• Inhale: Extend arms overhead, arching upper back, look to ceiling.
• Exhale: Seated Mountain.

5.Seated Figure Four: This is a gentle stretch for the hips. The hip joints naturally weaken and decay as we age, so practicing gentle stretches and strengthening poses can support the longevity we have for using hips. If we are sitting for long periods of time, the hips will also get tight, and this can create lower back pain.
Begin Seated Mountain.
• Inhale: Cross right ankle over left thigh, just above knee. Place right hand on right thigh and left hand on left foot.
• Exhale: Fold torso forward and relax head down. Breathe slowly.
• Repeat: Lift torso to vertical. Switch legs and repeat on second side.

6.Standing Twist and Side Bend (and Standing Half Moon): For these poses we’ll stand up to begin to work on strengthening the spine and abdominal organs. By reaching the arms over the head and twisting, and then side bending, we are strengthening our balance and core muscles at the same time. Balance is extremely important as we age to prevent falls, and to help us to be mobile and walking independent for as long as possible.
Begin Mountain Pose.
• Inhale: Arms up, interlace fingers, press palms to ceiling.
• Exhale: Twist to right.
• Inhale: Return to center.
• Exhale: Twist to left.
• Inhale: Return to center.
• Exhale: Side bend to right.
• Inhale: Return to center.
• Exhale: Side bend to left.
• Inhale: Return to center.
• Exhale: Standing Mountain.

7.Standing Half Moon
Begin: Standing Mountain.
• Inhale: Lift left arm up alongside left ear, press right arm into side.
• Exhale: Lean to right, reach left arm up and over head, gaze down at right hand.
• Inhale: Return to center. Lower left arm and press into side, lift right arm up alongside right ear.
• Exhale: Lean to left, reach right arm up and over head, gaze down at left hand.
• Inhale: Standing Mountain.

8.Standing Rest: This final pose is to bring awareness to the whole body after the yoga poses are completed. We rub the hands together to warm them and then cover the eyes and face with our warmed palms. This soothes the facial nerves, and sends calm messages directly to the brain for relaxation. You can also do this rest – sitting in a chair; and perform a body scan, mentally sending UR awareness to each and every part of UR body. It also prepares you for meditation.
Begin: Standing Mountain.
• Rub hands together.
• Once hands are slightly warm, place UR hands over closed eyes.
• With eyes closed, release arms down.
• Breathe quietly.

All of these positions should be done in a slow and careful manner. You should be breathing comfortably and a little deeper than normal, but not so deep that it creates tension. If you feel discomfort in any of the poses, you can stop and rest, or skip that one and go on to the next. The purpose of the practice is to create a feeling of energy in the body, calmness in the nervous system, and a clear, quiet mind. Check for these feelings when you are finished with your practice and try to practice in such a way that this is the effect that you get.

It’s important to keep moving our bodies as we age. Not only do our bodies naturally start to get stiffer as the years go by, our physiological systems can slow and get stiffer, too, including our cardiovascular, digestive and respiratory systems. By performing some simple movement practices every day, combined with smooth, even breathing, we can encourage circulation, oxygen, and nutrients to reach every part of our body. The movement of the spine each day is important because our central nervous system, starting with the brain, is sending messages to the entire body through the spinal cord every second of the day. Physical activity promotes independence for self-care actions, fosters high self-esteem among older adults and leads to better life expectancy and reduced mortality. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) exercise can:

  1. Increase functional capacity in the elderly
  2. Keep some chronic diseases at bay
  3. Strength, flexibility & balance exercises helps to avoid falls amongst the elderly

Additionally, practicing some kind of physical activity provides stress relief and helps to increase happiness. Regular exercise increases self-confidence and enhances mobility and flexibility too! The elderly tend to lose muscle mass, leading to weakness which can negatively affect the performance of daily activities. These changes cannot be stopped in the body but can certainly be reduced. Proper balanced nutrition and exercise can enhance functional capacity which decreases with ageing.
According to statistics 30 % seniors who are above 65 years of age fall very year at least once and for those beyond 80 years of age it goes up to 50%.

As we stretch, lengthen and strengthen the spinal column we are supporting the messaging and organizing structure of our nervous system to be able to perform the literally billions of functions that it oversees each day. In total, this leaves the body feeling energized, the nervous system balanced, and the mind calm.

Here are eight beneficial exercises for the elderly to practice daily:

Chair Sun Salutations: This sequence is based on the traditional movements of the Sun Salutations that exercise each part of the body and create warmth that is healing and soothing for the muscles and joints. The spine is moved forward and backwards, preparing it for the other movements to follow. Each movement is done with a long, even inhale, and long even exhales.

Begin Seated Mountain.
  • Inhale: Arms up.
  • Exhale: Hands to knees, round back.
  • Inhale: Arch back, look up.
  • Exhale: Round back.
  • Inhale: Arch back.
  • Exhale: Round back.
  • Inhale: Arms up.
  • Exhale: Seated Mountain.

Seated Twist: After the Sun Salutations move into a twist to help stimulate digestive function and also to reverse the daily effects of gravity on the spine.

Begin Seated Mountain.
  • Inhale: Arms Up.
  • Exhale: Twist to right.
  • Inhale: Left hand on knee, right hand on back of chair.
  • Exhale: Keep twisting to right, look over right shoulder.
  • Inhale: Back to center, arms up.
  • Exhale: Twist to left.
  • Inhale: Right hand on left knee, left hand on back of chair.
  • Exhale: Keep twisting to left, look over left shoulder.
  • Inhale: Return to center.
  • Exhale: Seated Mountain.

Eagle Arms: As we age the lordosis of the upper back can begin to become more pronounced, causing us to hunch over, and propel the neck forward (which can make swallowing more difficult). The Eagle Arm sequence targets this area of the back, and encourages better posture. Also, the rounding motion of the spine in the second position helps to open the lungs that are at the back of the body, supporting deeper breathing.

Begin Cactus Arms.
  • Inhale: Wrap right arm over left arm, cross right wrist around left wrist. Lift elbows, arch back, look up.
  • Exhale: Round back, bring elbows to belly. Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Repeat with left arm over right arm.
  • Repeat: on left side.

Neck and Shoulder Stretch:The poses begin to continue the work of the Eagle Arms, stretching the neck and upper chest area, opening the top part of the lungs, and releasing tension from the neck.

Begin Seated Mountain.
  • Inhale: Interlace finger and place hand under chin.
  • Exhale: Tilt head back, pressing hands into chin.
  • Inhale: Extend arms overhead, arching upper back, look to ceiling.
  • Exhale: Seated Mountain.

Seated Figure Four: This is a gentle stretch for the hips. The hip joints naturally weaken and decay as we age, so practicing gentle stretches and strengthening poses can support the longevity we have for using hips. If we are sitting for long periods of time, the hips will also get tight, and this can create lower back pain.

Begin Seated Mountain.
  • Inhale: Cross right ankle over left thigh, just above knee. Place right hand on right thigh and left hand on left foot.
  • Exhale: Fold torso forward and relax head down. Breathe slowly.
  • Repeat: Lift torso to vertical. Switch legs and repeat on second side.

Standing Twist and Side Bend (and Standing Half Moon): For these poses we’ll stand up to begin to work on strengthening the spine and abdominal organs. By reaching the arms over the head and twisting, and then side bending, we are strengthening our balance and core muscles at the same time. Balance is extremely important as we age to prevent falls, and to help us to be mobile and walking independent for as long as possible.

Begin Mountain Pose.
  • Inhale: Arms up, interlace fingers, press palms to ceiling.
  • Exhale: Twist to right.
  • Inhale: Return to center.
  • Exhale: Twist to left.
  • Inhale: Return to center.
  • Exhale: Side bend to right.
  • Inhale: Return to center.
  • Exhale: Side bend to left.
  • Inhale: Return to center.
  • Exhale: Standing Mountain.

Standing Half Moon

Begin: Standing Mountain.
  • Inhale: Lift left arm up alongside left ear, press right arm into side.
  • Exhale: Lean to right, reach left arm up and over head, gaze down at right hand.
  • Inhale: Return to center. Lower left arm and press into side, lift right arm up alongside right ear.
  • Exhale: Lean to left, reach right arm up and over head, gaze down at left hand.
  • Inhale: Standing Mountain.

Standing Rest: This final pose is to bring awareness to the whole body after the yoga poses are completed. We rub the hands together to warm them and then cover the eyes and face with our warmed palms. This soothes the facial nerves, and sends calm messages directly to the brain for relaxation. You can also do this rest – sitting in a chair; and perform a body scan, mentally sending UR awareness to each and every part of UR body. It also prepares you for meditation.

Begin: Standing Mountain.
  • Rub hands together.
  • Once hands are slightly warm, place UR hands over closed eyes.
  • With eyes closed, release arms down.
  • Breathe quietly.

All of these positions should be done in a slow and careful manner. You should be breathing comfortably and a little deeper than normal, but not so deep that it creates tension. If you feel discomfort in any of the poses, you can stop and rest, or skip that one and go on to the next. The purpose of the practice is to create a feeling of energy in the body, calmness in the nervous system, and a clear, quiet mind. Check for these feelings when you are finished with your practice and try to practice in such a way that this is the effect that you get.

Fill UR Inbox with wellness!

Signup for weekly newsletter

By clicking, you agree to T&C and Privacy policy