Once seniors hit their golden years, they tend to put off exercising. Those who do stay in the habit tend to walk or swim, but rarely include any type of strength training exercises. Even fewer include cardio exercise.
The fact is, if you want to stay healthy and in good shape, you need to include a variety of different exercises. Cardio exercise, strength training, and stretching exercises must all play a role if you want to keep the body in balance and as flexible as possible.
Exercising three or four times a week for at least 30 minutes a day will help to keep you on track and as healthy as possible for as long as possible!
Please click the button below to download a free PDF of the exercises in this article:
Keep in Mind:
Before starting any new exercise(s), we strongly recommend you follow the advice of the National Institute on Aging and consult your doctor.
What Are Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors?
Resistance band exercises involve the use of various sizes of rubber “bands”. Each size (often color-coded) represents a different amount of resistance. Resistance band exercises are a great way for seniors to get the exercise they need in the comfort of their own home. Resistance bands can offer similar results to those that are provided by hand weights. As their strength increases, larger, more resistant bands can be used to bump up the work out. Seniors can change the size of bands they use at each workout. This prevents them from plateauing if they are also trying to lose weight.
What Are the Benefits of Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors?
Resistance bands use the body's own strength to perform the exercise. They are ideal for anyone who is trying to get fit on a budget. Bands are inexpensive and offer benefits no matter what fitness level a person is at. With resistance bands, you can exercise almost every part of the body. You can take them with you wherever you go and use them in almost any setting. Resistance bands are a great way to spice up your workout routine. The first time you use a resistance band, you will realize how effective they can be even if you only use them part of the time.
Best Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors
Seniors who have limited space in which to exercise can work almost every area of the body with varying levels of resistance. Because bands can be easily stored, they can be taken anywhere and used whenever a person has a few free minutes. There are many resistance band exercises you can rely on for positive results. The following exercises are some of the best.
Easy Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors
If a senior is just starting to exercise, they should keep the resistance band exercises fairly simply for the first few weeks. They need to move slowly until they figure out the proper mechanics of each exercise. Use milder resistance in the beginning and work up to the more difficult bands. This will prevent soreness and reduce your risk of an injury. One of the best things about resistance bands is that they come in varying levels of resistance. Seniors can start working out with as little resistance as possible and gradually increase it as they become more comfortable.
With the chest pull exercise, you will want to grasp a band at each end and gently pull the ends as far apart as your arms will go. Make sure that you feel resistance as the muscles across your chest tighten. When you are ready to release the band, slowly allow your hands to return front and center to their original position. Perform 10 reps adding more as you become more comfortable.
In order to do a bicep curl, you will need to put the band under your feet and stand up straight. Grab the band with each hand, palm facing your body, and curl your arms upward. You should feel your bicep muscles tighten as the band becomes tighter. Slowly release the band by lowering your hands back down to their original position. Perform 10, adding more as you go along.
Start by placing the resistance band under your feet. Stand upright and with the band in each hand. Keep your arms straight and lift them up. Raise your arms out to your side and then straight up over your head. When you are ready to release, gradually lower your arms slowly to their original position. Depending on how strong the shoulders are, you may want to start out with 5 reps and gradually increase to 10.
Seated Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors
Seated resistance band exercises are a great option for seniors, especially if they are confined to a wheelchair or have limited mobility due to arthritis or other health conditions. Exercising from a seated position will help them build their strength and regain their balance. This allows them to be physically prepared for other types of exercise.
Seated Hip Flexion Exercises
Sit down with your feet flat on the floor. Place a resistance band around your left thigh, just above the knee. Put the other end of the resistance band under your right foot. Keeping your left knee bent, gradually lift your left foot up until it is about an inch or so off the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower your foot back down. Repeat with your right leg.
Seated Shoulder Press
From a seated position, place a band under your feet. Sitting as upright as possible, grasp the band and hold it at shoulder height. Gradually push your hands upwards until your arms are straight and stretched up above your head. Hold for several seconds and then gradually lower your hands down to your shoulders where they originally started. Perform 10 and then gradually begin to increase the number and resistance as you begin to gain strength.
Seated Chest Press
While sitting down, wrap a band around your shoulders with an end in each hand. With your hands at chest level, begin to push your hands away from your body until your arms are straight and you are reaching as far out in front of you as possible. Hold the position for several seconds and then slowly release, pulling your arms back to their original position.
Resistance Band Core Exercises for Seniors
Core exercises are a must for seniors. Keeping the core muscles strong helps to support the organs and prevents the build-up of visceral fat around the organs. Core exercise also improves cardiovascular function and reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Place a band around both legs close to the knees while you are in a seated position. Spread your legs as far apart as you can. Hold for several seconds and then gradually allow your knees to come back together. You should feel a gentle pull along the inside of your thighs. This not only strengthens the hip flexors but will also support the pelvic floor and the gluteal muscles as well.
With a band under each foot and the other end in each hand, stand up straight and lift your arms, one at a time over your head. Stretch your hand over to the opposite side and reach as far as you can. Stretch first with your left hand and then with your right. Once you've reached as far as you can, hold for a few seconds and then slowly release back to the original position and stretch with the other hand.
Reverse Russian Twist/Side to Side
Standing upright, put a band under your left foot and hold the end with your right hand. Pull the band up and back, stretching it across your body as you extend your arm out to your side. Pull as far as you can and hold for several seconds. Gradually release the hold, allowing your hand to go back down to your side. Repeat with your other arm. Do several reps for each side.
Upper Body Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors
Upper body resistance band exercises for seniors will help to keep your back, neck, and shoulders strong. Exercising your arms and neck especially will help you to maintain as much range of motion and flexibility as possible. The more you work your upper body, the stronger you will be when it comes to keeping up with your day to day activities.
Upper Back Stretch
While seated, extend your legs and place a band around your feet. Grab the band with each hand and pull back, arching your back. Stretch as far back as you possibly can. Hold the stretch for several seconds. As you release, gradually allow your back to uncurl and come back up. Repeat this exercise several times.
Neck and Shoulder Stretch
Place the end of the resistance band in each hand and place the center of the band along the back of the neck at the base. While seated, rest your hands on your thighs and gently pull upward against the band with the base of your neck and the shoulders. Do not force the stretch. Only go as far as you are comfortable. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and gradually release.
Overhead Pull-Apart Stretch
Take the end of a resistance band in each hand. Stretch your arms above your head and pull your hands apart. Pull the band as far apart as you can while keeping your arms as straight as possible and then hold for several seconds. Slowly release the hold and repeat 10 times. This exercise will work the shoulders, the neck, and much of the upper back.
Flexibility Exercises for Seniors Using Resistance Bands
Seniors who tend to be less active often lose their flexibility and range of motion. Because resistance bands can be used on all areas of the body, seniors can use them to improve both ranges of motion and flexibility. The more the bands are used, the more strength will be gained. Flexibility and balance are essential as a person ages.
While standing upright and holding the ends of the band in each hand, you will want to step on the band to secure it. From a squatted position, start to stand upright, pulling the resistance band taut on either side. Stretch your body as upright as you can and hold for several seconds. Gradually lower yourself back to a squat position.
From a seated position, place the ends of a resistance band in each hand. Put the toe of your foot onto the band and press away from the body, stretching the leg out until it is completely straight. Hold for several seconds and release by bending the knee and allowing the leg to return to its original position. Perform the same exercise with the other leg.
The tricep press is performed in much the same way s the bicep press except for the position of the hands. With a tricep press, the palms of the hands are facing away from the body. Curl the arm upholding the end of the band in your hand. Hold for a few seconds and release. You will be able to feel the muscles along the back of your arms tighten.
Resistance band exercises are a good way for seniors to get back into the swing of things when it comes to exercising. If they haven't been exercising in a while, it may take time for them to get back on track. It's essential that seniors get a physical exam from their doctor before starting out on any type of new exercise routine. Once they have received the all-clear, it's important to start out slowly. Begin using resistance bands with the least amount of resistance to start. Gradually increasing resistance is the best way to move forward.
There will be minimal soreness and a reduced risk of injury. The benefits go far beyond the extended range of motion and improved flexibility. With resistance bands, seniors can improve cardiovascular function and become more active without having to purchase a gym membership or buy a lot of expensive equipment.
Supporting Scientific Studies
- 1Effect of physical training performed on unstable surfaces with use of elastic bands for resistance exercises on physical performance and quality of life in elderly persons
- 2Elastic Band Exercises Improved Activities of Daily Living and Functional Fitness of Wheelchair-bound Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment. A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.
- 3An elastic band exercise program for older adults using wheelchairs in Taiwan nursing homes: A cluster randomized trial
- 4Feasible modalities and long-term effects of elastic band exercises in nursing home older adults in wheelchairs: A cluster randomized controlled trial
- 5Sleep quality and depression of nursing home older adults in wheelchairs after exercises
- 6Programs on People Older Than 80 Years
- 7Comparison of the effects of two selected exercises of Theraband and Pilates on the balance and strength of lower limb in elderly women
- 8Resource Manual for Active Seniors
- 9Influence of Two Different Exercise Programs on Physical Fitness and Cognitive Performance in Active Older Adults: Functional Resistance-Band Exercises vs. Recreational Oriented Exercises
- 10Efficacy of Progressive Resistance Tube Training in Community Dwelling Older Adults: A Pilot Study