Fun Fitness Ideas For Seniors

May 4, 2020

Guest Author: Carisa Campanella

Finding new ways to improve your health-related fitness while under quarantine can be quite an undertaking for most people. It can be hard to know where to begin and what exercises to choose! In my role as Exercise Coordinator for Grand Living at Lakewood Ranch, it is my mission to find fun and purposeful movement to help our Residents feel their best. My aim is to help participants improve their mood, enhance their cognitive abilities, and most of all, feel strong! Daily movement is the key to improving your blood circulation, bolstering your immune system, and keeping your muscles, bones and joints in good working order. Here is a fun and easy program anyone can do at home in either a seated or standing position. This program will help strengthen your heart, lungs and muscles, improve flexibility, and will help you to feel calm and relaxed. Find a space in your home where you have room to move. If you have trouble with balance, make sure you are seated in a strong and sturdy chair. Have some fun and upbeat music playing in the background.  And remember, if a certain position or movement does not feel comfortable for you, do not do it!

Warm-Up with Deep Breathing: Sitting up straight and tall in a chair, take a long breath in through your nose and a long breath out through your mouth. On the 5th breath in raise your arms out to the sides and over your head, and on the long breath out bring them down with a big flapping motion like you are a pelican flapping your wings! Continue raising your arms and flapping your wings gently for four more breaths. You make find that this type of breathing can help you feel relaxed when you are anxious.

Jazzy Joints: Now that you have conditioned your heart and lungs, it is time to focus on loosening up your joints. A great way to lubricate and strengthen your shoulder joint is to reach your arm up in the air and pretend you are screwing in a lightbulb. This will rotate your shoulder, elbow and wrist. Do one arm at a time. Another way to loosen up your shoulders is to pretend you are holding oars in each hand and “row the boat.” You can row your oars forwards and backwards. To loosen up your hip joint, sit up straight in your chair and lift your right knee up and then move your right leg to the side, as if you are trying to step over a hot flame. Repeat this move several times and then do the left side. This will open up your hips and help you walk with greater ease.

Rockin’ Rollers: Now that you have warmed up your joints, you are ready to dance! Find some upbeat 50s and 60s music (I like Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry) and turn up the volume. While seated in your chair, you can do the twist, move your arms and pretend you are playing the guitar and piano, do some alternating leg kicks and toe taps, or whatever movement feels good to you!

Dynamic Drumming: A fun way to keep your heart pumping is to do some drumming! You can make your own “drum” by turning a wastepaper basket upside down or using a big pot. “Drumsticks” can be paper towel tubes, wooden spoons, or sticks from outside. You can drum along to any song you like. My favorites are “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by the Beatles. When you drum, you sit up straight and tall in your chair and bring both “drumsticks” down together on your wastepaper basket or alternate arms. The higher you lift your arms the better it is for your heart. You can also drum on the sides of your “drum” or even bend forward in your chair and tap your “drumsticks” on the floor.

Sunshine Stretching: To cool down after your “party with movement,” put on some relaxing music. Sit up straight and tall in your chair and take a deep breath in through your nose and blow out through your mouth. On your next breath in arch your back, stick out your chest and bring your arms out to the sides. As you exhale, round your shoulders and bring your arms in front of you as though you were hugging a tree. This movement will stretch your chest and your back. From your seated position, the next stretch you can do is to extend your right leg, so your heel is touching the floor. Gently bend forward at the waist to stretch the muscles behind your right leg. When you are done stretch the left leg. Finish your stretching by wrapping your arms around your shoulders like you are giving yourself a hug.

How do you feel? Hopefully you are energized! Remember any type of movement that you can enjoy safely will have great benefits. Try to schedule your “party with movement” at the same time every day, and have fun!

About the Author: Carisa Campanella is the Fitness Coordinator at Grand Living at Lakewood Ranch. In addition to degrees in Communications and Fitness Technology, Carisa holds four national certifications in Health Coaching, Personal Training, Group Exercise Instruction and Spinning including ACSM and ACE. She also specializes in Functional Aging, Senior Fitness, and Parkinson’s Disease.

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