Physical wellness is one element that defines health for older adults. As we age, our levels of inactivity can increase, leading to a loss of strength and stamina. Physical activity can address these concerns while also providing additional health benefits such as maintaining healthy bones, controlling joint swelling and pain due to arthritis, and reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes(Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). Engaging in regular physical activity can help maintain independence as well as reduce your risk of falling.
Therefore, even during a pandemic, it is extremely important to continue to exercise while at home. While it may take some time to transition to remote or online exercise, there are many ways we can enjoy being active safely in our home.
Looking for New Exercises
There are many resources for different exercise programs to participate in from the comfort of your own home. If you decide to pursue a new exercise program, always consult your physician before starting (Centers for Disease Control, n.d.). Here are some ways to find an online program that works with your needs.
- Stick to Your Interests
- If you previously attended Tai Chi or Zumba classes in person, check to see if your instructor or community center has transitioned those classes online.
- Ask Friends and Family
- Ask friends or family what they are doing to stay active at home, or exercise together over Zoom to stay connected.
- Search on YouTube
- YouTube is a great platform to find a wide variety of free exercise videos.
- Look for specific types of exercise that interest you. Various exercise programs may focus specifically on topics such as balance, mobility, strength, or endurance. When doing so, make sure to verify they are led by trained professionals.
- Other Online Resources
- With different options for online exercises, it is easy to get overwhelmed and not know which one to choose. If you are not sure where to turn to for online exercise, consider these resources.
- AARP has several short fitness videos you can do at home. These videos cover a variety of exercises including balance, low-impact cardio, and walking exercises.
- National Institute on Aging (NIH) has a YouTube channel featuring different exercises you can do at home.
- The NIH website offers more information on exercising in general. They have a variety of articles such as this one, discussing different exercises to improve your health and physical ability.
- Pocket Yoga
- This free mobile phone application provides pictures and videos of yoga moves from certified yoga instructors, and you can select yoga sessions of different lengths and levels of difficulty.
- Johnson and Johnson: 7 Minute Workout
- This free mobile app offers many equipment-free workouts that you can do at home. These short exercises can be done easily if you do not have time to dedicate to longer workouts.
- This free mobile app can make your walking routine a little more dynamic by helping you set goals, track your walk, and offer new walking routes to take.
- Senior Fitness with Meredith
- This is a YouTube channel dedicated to providing fitness resources and videos for older adults. These videos include exercises for posture and balance.
- Yoga with Adriene
- Yoga with Adriene is a YouTube channel featuring videos for different levels of yoga. Some videos are made specifically for beginners while other videos target specific parts of the body such as back pain or neck and shoulder relief.
Things to Keep in Mind While Searching for Exercise
- Know Your Limits
- Exercise does not need to be overly strenuous or intense. Match your physical limits with the exercise you choose. You do not want to risk injuring yourself either.
- Look for programs that offer modifications to different exercise (such as walking instead of jumping or sitting instead of standing).
- Take breaks if you have to, and if something feels off or hurts, stop the exercise.
- Before starting a new exercise program, consult your physician first to ensure that the exercise is safe for you to do (Harvard Health, n.d.).
- Let them know what type of exercise you plan on doing.
- It is especially important to check with your doctor if you have any chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
- If you feel dizzy or experience discomfort while exercising, stop the program and consult with your doctor.
- Search for Certifications and Reliability
- Look for exercise programs that are taught or led by trained professionals. These certified individuals know the correct posture, form, and execution of the exercise they are teaching.
- On YouTube, some fitness channels may be extremely popular, but the person may not be officially certified to teach these exercises.
- Try visiting the “About” section on the YouTube page to see if they list any certifications.
- One way to verify online resources is to look up the instructor on the internet. They may have a website with information on their background and/or licensing.
- Ask for help. Information about a person’s qualifications may be difficult to find since not everybody who shares exercise videos is a certified instructor. Ask friends or family to help you verify specific programs that interest you.
- Exercise with Friends
- Even though you may be exercising at home, you can still stay connected with friends by doing it together and keeping each other accountable.
- Schedule a Zoom call and follow an exercise video together.
The resources mentioned above are only a few of many free exercise programs available. You can use the resources provided here as a starting point to look for additional online exercise options. In addition, exercise is not just limited to a structured class or program that you follow. Gardening, walking, and yard work are also beneficial forms of exercise.
Setting Up a Home Gym
- You do not need an empty room be able to exercise at home. However, it is nice to have a space dedicated to exercise such as the garage.
- You can also clear out a corner of a room to be used as your exercise space, where you can store your exercise equipment as well.
- Space and safety
- Make sure your dedicated exercise location has enough space for the exercises you will be doing.
- For instance, if you will be doing yoga, make sure there is space to spread out your yoga mat.
- Similarly, if you will be moving around a lot, or extending your arms and legs, be sure there is nothing around that you may bump into or knock over.
- Types of Equipment
- Typically, when you think about exercise equipment, you may think of treadmills, ellipticals, or large dumbbells. However, you do not need those large items to successfully workout or equip your home gym.
- Items such as a yoga mat, hand weights, and resistance bands are small and can be easily stored away in between workouts. These items can be purchased from Target, sporting goods stores or online retailers.
- If you do not want to purchase these products, consider finding workouts that do not need equipment or find an at-home alternative to use.
- For instance, if you need hand weights, replace them with water bottles or canned goods.
- Use a sturdy chair for chair exercises or to help maintain your balance while doing standing exercises.
- Be sure to wear appropriate clothing while exercising. Your clothes should be comfortable and easy to move around in.
- Wear supportive shoes that fit the type of exercise you are doing.
- When we exercise, we move more and may start sweating, so it is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
- Be sure to have a water bottle on hand to stay hydrated while exercising.
Considering how important exercise is for our physical and mental health, we need to find ways to continue these routines for our wellbeing. While we may have to modify how we exercise at home, there are multiple ways to find a workout routine that fits our specific needs. Exercising remotely can also become an activity you do with others to stay connected with others. Again, be sure to consult your physician before starting a new online exercise program. Be open to trying something new to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.
Centers for Disease Control. (n.d.). Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved on July 14, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/olderad.htm
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Do you need to see a doctor before starting your exercise program? Retrieved on July 16, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/do-you-need-to-see-a-doctor-before-starting-your-exercise-program