The Living Room Workout for over 65s: keeping fit when it’s too cold to go out
If it’s freezing outside and you’re reluctant to go out, or it’s tipping it down with rain, here’s a way you can keep fit in the warmth of your own home. Fitness in later life isn’t about running marathons or achieving a ‘six pack’, it’s about enabling you to carry out every day activities easily, while enjoying better all round physical health. Workouts should include simple, functional, repeatable movements, similar to those you use in daily life, to keep you flexible and mobile. Carrying out these exercises regularly will also improve balance, stability and cardiovascular health.
Head Physiotherapist at Lynwood Village, Rosaria Toohey has designed a series of workouts for over 65s that can be done at home, while out and about and even in bed before getting up in the morning. First up – the Living Room Workout!
Before taking part in any new exercise, check with your GP that you are fit to do so.
The Living Room Workout (part 1)
- The Warm Up
Spend 3 – 5 minutes gently marching on the spot. If you have a balance issue, make sure you have a wall to support yourself if needed. Alternatively march on the spot from a sitting position. Increase the range of leg lift as the minutes tick by.
- Leg Swings
Please be careful and do not swing too vigorously if you have had a hip replacement. You may find it difficult to stand on the hip replacement leg, in which case just do this exercise on the other leg.
Stand with your body side-on to a wall or kitchen worktop (something that is at a height where you can support yourself without having to bend). Start with small leg swings back and forwards and gradually increase the range. After 10 repetitions, change legs. Keep the leg you are standing on slightly bent, hold your chin up high and your back straight.
- Chair Squats
Use a chair with a firm base that is pushed back securely against a wall, such as a sturdy dining chair or big, heavy living room chair that is not too low. With your legs spaced hip distance apart and your arms folded across your chest, focus on standing up from the chair and then after pausing for two seconds at the top, sitting back down as slowly as you can. Use the arm rests if you need to. Stand up under total control with your chin up, eyes looking forward and keeping your knees from coming in.
- Towel Stretch
Hold a towel so it dangles down your back. Holding the top of the towel in your right hand, use your left hand to gently pull the towel and right arm down. Hold the position for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times on each arm. Alternate arms to allow rest in between. You’ll probably find that one arm reaches back further than the other.
- Seated or Standing Bicep Curl
You can do this exercise sitting down or standing up.
Find two tins of equal weight (such as baked beans, or whatever you have in the cupboard). Holding one tin in each hand, tuck your elbows into your side and hold the tins down below your waist line. Curl the tins up towards you for the count of 2, then lower slowly back to the start for the count of 3. If you do this exercise standing, bend your knees and avoid rocking. You can curl both arms up together or do one arm at a time. Repeat this 10 or 20 times.
- Neck Stretch
This must be completed slowly and with concentration.
From either a standing or seated position look directly ahead. Slowly turn your head to the right as far as it will comfortably go, hold for about 3 seconds and then slowly turn your head back to the centre so you are looking forwards. Repeat to the left. Always return back to the centre each time and repeat three times on each side.
If you spend 30 minutes a day doing these exercises (you could split it into two 15 minute sessions) you’ll find it pushes your heart rate up a bit, which is good for fitness, and it will help keep your joints oiled and pain free.
Job done! Time for a well deserved cup of tea. Look out for part two of the Lynwood Living Room Workout, which we’ll post soon.