August is National Wellness Month, which brings promotional awareness to creating healthy habits within our daily routines. Research has proven time and time again that exercising is great for boosting overall mental health, namely because an exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain can trigger and release a series of chemical reactions within the brain’s anatomy. With that said, there is no better time to get up and moving than the present! Now, we know for our fellow Arizona residents that this mid-August summer heat makes venturing outside seem nearly impossible. However, we have a list of great exercises that can be done indoors, making breaking a sweat easy and comfortable! The best part? These exercises are perfect for seniors of varying strengths and capabilities; all that is needed are a chair and a ball (think the size of a soccer or dodgeball).
Senior Summer Exercise #1: Figure 8’s
This Figure 8 workout is a great way to help seniors increase their range of motion and control their muscle movements by focusing on the upper body and chest area. Starting in a seated position in a chair, make sure both of your feet are flat on the ground and spaced evenly apart, about shoulders’ width. Using both of your hands, start by holding the ball at your center (chest level), then using both arms and hands to slowly move the ball through the air in a fluid Figure 8 motion. Continue
to move the ball through the air for about 15 complete reps, remembering to breathe throughout the process, before bringing the ball back to your center. Repeat 3 times.
Senior Summer Exercise #2: Up & Out
Using a ball to stretch up and outwards offers a workout that is great for helping seniors get their blood pumping while strengthening muscles in their abdomen, arms, and shoulders. Same as before, begin seated with feet flat on the ground, spaced shoulders’ width apart, and the ball held between both hands at your center. Next, using both hands and arms, slowly raise the ball above your head, stretching your arms out completely (or as comfortably as possible). Hold the ball for 3
seconds before bringing it back to your center and holding it there again for 3 seconds. Then, slowly hold the ball out horizontally in front of you, again stretching your arms out and holding this position for 3 seconds before bringing the ball back to your center and holding it there for another 3 seconds. Do this rep 10-15 times before resting for a full minute (or as long as needed) and doing it all over again a second time.
Senior Summer Exercise #3: Side-To-Side
Moving Side-To-Side is another excellent exercise for increasing range of motion, especially for adults with Parkinson’s disease. As with the previous two exercise routines, begin seated with feet flat on the ground and evenly spaced. Starting with the ball held at your center, move the ball out in front of you with your elbows slightly bent. Then, still using both hands to hold the ball and keeping your arms outstretched, turn all the way to your left, engaging your core and upper body muscles as you
move. Then, move back to forward facing before using those same muscles to turn your upper body all the way to your right. Remember to continue practicing your breathing as you move your body, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Complete 10-15 full rotations.
COPE Has You Covered
Are you a COPE participant (or thinking about becoming one), and want to know if daily movement is a part of the program? We have you covered! Oakwood’s COPE program does include a physical screen called TUG, which can later be used to make referrals to local resources so families CAN get immediate and ongoing support for physical strengthening and balance with a physical therapist if desired.
Our COPE-certified Occupational Therapist, Monika, says, “One of the unique parts of COPE is that the program follows the priorities of the care partner, targeting high-stress points and behaviors.” So, if mobility and movement are something you want to address, check in to see if COPE can help get you to the right resources.