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Exercise is key for the physical and mental health of most people, including seniors. Being physically active allows individuals to continue doing the things they enjoy, while also preventing common diseases, in many cases. According to statistics of physical inactivity in America, about 36% of adults do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity. This is surprising considering that a brisk 20-minute walk everyday, practiced even among seniors, confers to a 30-40% reduced risk of a heart attack.

Low-impact exercises can easily be incorporated into a senior’s daily routine. Whether you are a relative of a senior, a helpful caregiver, or a senior yourself – here are some exercises to get you started.

Leg Raises help strengthen the thigh, hip, buttocks, and lower back muscles. Stand behind a chair and hold the back for better balance. Lift one leg out to the side, keeping it in line from heel to hip. Make sure to maintain a straight back and a slight bend in the supporting leg. Slowly lower the leg, and repeat 9 times before switching to the opposite leg.

For back leg raises, keep the chair in front of you and place a hand on the back for support. This time around, slowly lift one leg behind you without leaning forward. Hold for a moment, lower the leg, and repeat 9 times before switching to the opposite leg.

Walking is a great low-impact exercise for seniors because it can be done anywhere, at any pace – with or without caregiver assistance. For aerobic benefit, seniors who can handle a higher pace may want to pump their arms to get the heart rate higher. Walking around the house, in the backyard, up and down the stairs at home, or even on the sidewalk are quick and easy walking options. For those who want more of a challenge, purchase a pedometer to track your steps and gradually work toward 10,000 per day!

Squats are great at any age because they work your major leg muscles. Stand with your feet about hip distance apart and hold your arms straight out with the palms facing down. Squat down as though you were going to sit. (You may keep a chair behind you to help, but do not actually sit on it.) As you go down into the squat, reach your left hand toward the right so that your body rotates slightly to the right. Bring your arms back to center as you rise back up, and reach in the other direction he next time you go down. Continue to alternate the arms as you do about 10-15 squats. Adding a slight twist makes the move slightly more difficult so while it is an option, it is NOT required.

Be sure to keep in mind during any physical activity you should start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise daily. Also, stay hydrated and stop for water whenever you need it.

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