Aerobic exercise helps keep bodies and minds young. A study published in Discovery Medicine found that regular heart rate-boosting movement is a key to successful aging, improving blood pressure, bone density, mood and quality of life, while other studies have found that it also aids cognitive function. Unfortunately, heart disease, weak bones and other health conditions prevent many seniors from participating in beneficial aerobic workouts.
Seated aerobics, however, works with pre-existing conditions to help people take part in heart-rate boosting activity. The exercises are done while sitting in a sturdy chair, which decreases the risk of falls and eases pressure on the joints. Although participants are sitting down, the cardio exercises they do with their hands and legs still pump up their heart rates and burn calories, just as if they were doing them standing up.
Seated aerobics instructor Bobbie Elzey described the merits of the exercise method to CNN: "We always start off with a real long warm up because their body needs to adjust. And then, we do a little bit of standing up motions, doing squats because you need to squat ... Their muscles gets so strong so quickly. It's amazing like within two or three weeks, they're a little bit stronger. The grocery bags aren't quite as heavy, they can open up the car door a little bit easier, they're more confident in going up and over curbs and balance."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that individuals age 65 and over need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, along with muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week. Seated aerobics exercise can help seniors reach their weekly recommendation for cardiovascular activity without the risk of falls or strain.
Do it right
Whether individuals are doing seated aerobics at home or in a group class, they should follow these guidelines for safe exercise:
- Talk with a doctor before starting the program
- Drink water before, during and after exercising
- Use a sturdy chair that doesn't have arm rests and is not a folding chair or on wheels
- When sitting in the chair, knees should be at a 90 degree angle
- Those in wheelchairs should set the brakes or immobilize the wheels in another way
- While exercising, sit up tall and use the abs to keep good posture
- If one has high blood pressure, check the level before exercising and do not do movements that use weights
- If one has diabetes and takes medication that can cause hypoglycemia, test the blood sugar level of the body before and after exercising
Exercises to try
All of these exercises should be done while seated. Don't overwork yourself - instead, start with only a few reps and slower movements at first, and then work your way up to a higher intensity and longer sets.
March in place: Alternatively lift feet up, as if you are marching with big strides. To raise your heart rate even more, lift your feet higher while pumping arms at your sides.
Pump arms overhead: Lift your arms out in front of you and and bend at the elbows so your hand are up in front of your face and your palms are facing forward. Raise your arms up in the air and then return to place in front of you and repeat. Continue raising arms up and down quickly, and add leg pumps to boost heart rate further.
Punch: Raise fists in front of your face, and then punch out the arms, alternating with each arm. Make sure that when you punch you are not fully extending the elbow, which can injure arms. Punching to the side while slightly twisting the abdominal muscles will work your core.
Kicks: Kick your legs out in front of you, return them to the ground, and repeat. Like with the punches, don't fully extend through the knee to protect joints. Pump your arms while kicking out your legs for even more cardio action. This move also helps improve flexibility.
Resistance band presses: Wrap a resistance band under your chair so it is secure and do slow chest presses. Press up for one second and then press down for two seconds.
Add seated aerobics to your exercise routine to help keep your heart, muscles and brain healthy and strong.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living