Winter months are fast approaching and it is important for seniors to stay active, especially those with arthritis. Exercise helps to reduce joint pain as well as stiffness when it comes to performing everyday tasks. It also helps to improve muscle strength and flexibility. Here are some easy warm-up, strengthening, and aerobic exercises for seniors with arthritis that can be done during those cold months to keep arthritis from worsening due to limited activity.
Stretching exercises are the most important of all exercises when it comes to those with arthritis. These exercises are good for warm-ups and help your body to relax and release tension. They should be done before strengthening and aerobic exercises.
Chest, Upper Back, and Arm Stretch: Stand straight, resting your arms at your sides. While keeping straight, interlock your hands behind your back. Gently try and squeeze your shoulders toward the middle of your back. You should feel stretching in the chest, upper back, and arms. Slowly make a forward circle with your shoulders and reverse for a backward circle keeping your hands interlocked. Okay, now relax. Repeat.
Neck Stretch: Sit on a chair or stand with your back straight. Slowly move your right ear as close to your right shoulder as you can, staying straight and without moving your shoulders. Repeat on the left side.
Quad, Hip, and Knee Stretch: Using a wall for support, stand and place your right hand on the wall. Fold your left leg back and grab your foot with your left hand. Now, pull your foot toward your buttocks keeping your tummy tight. Let go of your foot, relax, and switch to the opposite arm and leg.
Laying Stretch: Lie down with your back on a mat or carpet. Bend your knees. Bring the right knee to your chest by using your arms to pull the knee. Keep the left foot on the floor with your knee still bent. Release and lower the right leg and repeat with the left.
Strengthening is also important when it comes to those with arthritis because muscles help take stress off the joints. Strengthening exercises should be done after a warm-up or stretching.
Hand Exercise: Put both hands in front of you, thumbs pointing towards your face. While keeping your wrists straight and fingers together, fold your fingertips down towards the top of your palm. Slowly raise your fingers back up, and repeat. Be sure to keep your hands relaxed while performing this exercise.
Bicep Curls: Sitting in a chair with your back straight and your upper arms close to your side and one weight in your right hand, bend at the elbow and bring the weight up towards your shoulder. Lower to starting position and repeat with left arm. Tip: If you do not have a weight, try using a water bottle or canned food.
Half-way Squats: Stand with your feet about two feet apart. With your back straight, bend your knees and lower your buttocks until your knees go past your feet (with a regular squat thighs are parallel to the floor). Raise yourself up to starting position, and repeat.
Tricep Strengthening: Sit up straight in a chair or stand. Grab a weight with both hands. Put weight behind your head with your elbows pointing up towards the ceiling. Raise the weight over your head and then lower it behind the head without touching the neck. Repeat.
Along with stretching and strengthening exercises, cardio vascular (aerobic) exercise is also important for those suffering with arthritis. Water exercise is increasing in popularity and is excellent for those with arthritis because water supports body weight and lessens stress on joints. During the winter, water exercise can be done in an indoor pool or hot tub.
Water aerobics: Stand up straight in the water with your arms at your sides and slightly bent, with both feet firmly planted on the pool bottom (water should be anywhere from chest to waist deep). Walk around the pool making sure that with each step you first plant your heel, then the ball of your foot. Continue for 15-30 minutes.
If you’re not a water person, dress up in the proper attire, and go outside or to a gym for a 30 minute walk.
It is important to have a routine work-out schedule that includes stretching, strengthening, and cardio, but you should always check with your doctor before performing any exercise. Exercise can be beneficial to seniors with arthritis, especially during cold months when activity usually hits a minimum. These exercises will get your blood pumping and reduce pain caused by arthritis without being too strenuous on the body.
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