Children can suddenly go from sitting still to running full speed, and it doesn’t seem to hurt them. That’s an ability we lose as we get older. Young and middle-aged adults need to warm up before they do heavy exercise or play sports, and it’s even more important for seniors.
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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 Warm Up Exercises for Seniors?
A good warm up involves more than just doing a few stretches. We need to get our hearts and lungs going as well. We need to warm up the body temperature and loosen the muscles. A couple of the best warm up exercises are a brief walk and marching in place with exaggerated arm swings. The ideal warm up routine, however, includes movement of all parts of the body as well as a few stretches. Ideally, it should last 10-15 minutes, long enough to break a sweat and get the muscles ready.
What Are the Benefits of Warm Up Exercises for Seniors?
The most significant reason for warm up exercises is to prevent injury. Stretching cold muscles too quickly is an invitation to injury. As we get older our bodies tell us they need a little extra time to get going, and they’re telling us the truth.
It’s not just stretching them that makes your muscles more supple during warm up. With a little cardio, the heart rate and respiration go up. Your blood flow increases and you move more oxygen. That O2 gets delivered to your muscles, and their efficiency improves. Their reaction time improves.
Warm up time is mental preparation as well. It reduces tension and stress. If you’re going to be competing, it helps you develop the edge you need. Whether your activity is a sport and a workout, a good warm up will enable you to attack it with better performance.
Best Warm Up Exercises for Seniors
Here’s a combination of easy exercises, seated exercises and sport-specific exercises you can incorporate into your next warm up session.
Easy Warm Up Exercises for Seniors
Warm up shouldn’t be strenuous. Here are some easy ones to get started with.
1. Shoulder Rolls
These can also be done in a chair.
2. Shoulder Squeezes
Like the shoulder rolls, these can be done seated.
3. Neck Stretches
All motions should be slow and controlled with the torso motionless. These can also be done in a chair.
4. Leg Swings
Warm Up Chair Exercises for Seniors
You can elevate your pulse and body temperature seated as well as standing. Here a few exercises for the chair.
5. Seated Ankle Circles
For an extra challenge, raise and circle both ankles at the same time.
6. Seated Hamstring Stretch
Strong, flexible hamstrings support the hips and knees and help prevent falls.
7. Seated Shin Stretch
A shin stretch counters the effects of being on your feet a lot. It also helps prevent shin splints.
8. Seated Hip Lifts
For a different feel, slide forward in the chair. Or cross your legs and lift the upper leg and hip.
Tai Chi Warm Up Exercises for Seniors
Tai chi is an ancient art that uses controlled and gradual body movement. Just the right thing for a warm up. Here are three routines that loosen the entire body.
9. Waist Loosening
10. Torso Twist
The previous exercises moved the hips. This one twists the trunk while hip movement is minimal.
A modification: as you bring your arms up and down, make a slight arc to the outside of your body for a windmill effect. Do this motion equally between the right and left sides.
Golf Warm Up Exercises for Seniors
Sometimes golf seems like a leisurely game, but it can strain and jerk the muscles. Loosen up before you tee off.
12. Standing Quad Stretch
This helps you stand straight and keeps your knees and hips flexible.
For an extra stretch, lift your rib cage and look straight forward.
If you’re confident of your balance, you can do this standing free without holding anything. If you can raise your free hand overhead, give yourself a gold star. But don’t try it unless your balance is excellent.
13. Golf Club Back Twist
You can do this one on the first tee. Or on any tee, for that matter.
14. Hip Rollover Back Twist
You need to get on the floor or ground for this one, so you might be more comfortable doing it before you meet on the first tee. It’s excellent preparation for the twisting motion your golf swing requires.
Warm Up Any Time of Day
Warm up exercises are important whenever you’re about to participate in a sport or a workout. You can also do them prior to moderate to vigorous activity such as gardening, cleaning and working about the house. In fact, you don’t really need an excuse to do warm up exercises. Do these any time of the day just because they feel good, relieve tension and help you feel relaxed and invigorated.
Make it a habit to do a few minutes of warm up every time you get ready to exert your body. You’ll be rewarded not only with protection against injury but also with better performance and reaction time. It will give you the mental and physical edge to help you participate at your best.