Click here to read the first post in this series “Dumbbells and Diet”
This post was going to only be about the fun and easy chair exercises done at home to strengthen our bones and muscles. I then read the latest reports stating that inactivity is killing as many of us as smoking, and it’s not just here in the United States but worldwide. We have known for a long time that a lack of exercise and physical activity can harm us in many ways, including increasing our risk of death, now it’s right up there with smoking. It sounds like if we just get off the couch and get physically active we will live longer. But the couch is so comfortable and we want to sit and just watch our favorite TV shows in peace. However, those reports should give us something to really think about. Regardless of our age or physical condition, if we are all aiming for longevity, then those reports should be our wake-up call to do everything we can to keep the Grim Reaper at bay while reaping the benefits from just moving it!
Many of us have good intentions and make resolutions to start exercising but we’re too busy right now, plus, we’re too tired, too old, too sickly, too fat, too thin, and on and on with the reasons. If we are working, how do we fit it into our schedule? For those who are retired, many don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to go to a gym or exercise class, and not everyone can afford a gym membership. Besides, getting up early was for going to work–been there, done that. But there are those who do better in a class or with a buddy.
What’s the difference between exercise and physical activity? Physical activities are actions that get your body moving, like gardening, walking, climbing stairs, biking. Exercise is a form of physical activity specifically planned, structured, and repetitive such as yoga, tai chi, aerobics or weight training. Both come in many forms giving you the energy needed to do everyday activities as well as maintain and improve your health in order to complete your bucket list. They can offer a brand new way of looking at life.
But what about that chair? The chair exercises are not limited to just strengthening our bones and muscles, they can result in a full-body workout for anyone. Here’s our chance to “have our cake and eat it too!” (On second thought, the cake might not be such a good idea.) If the couch is killing us, perhaps the chair will actually save our lives, as we exercise at home while watching TV. Now we can get our exercise in on our terms and time. No special equipment needed–just a sturdy chair! Water bottles or cans of food to use for dumbbells, a tennis ball, a towel and a resistance band will be your “expensive” equipment. I saw a demonstration on TV showing how just 30 seconds of using a resistance band resulted in a high intensity full-body workout. Of course not everyone is physically up for all that sweating and heavy breathing, so take your time and let your body tell you what’s right for you. Some people even credit the hula hoop and the jump rope for their fitness and weight loss–sounds like fun!
Once inspired, you may want to abandon the chair and transition into different ways of exercising, but before you try to earn an INSANITY T-shirt, be sure to check with your doctor. Your activity level should fit your physical and medical condition. People with osteoporosis or low bone density should avoid movements such as twisting or jarring the spine or bending forward from the waist.
Whether you’re a senior with reduced motility or a younger person looking to exercise at the office, this is a great way to relax, stretch, get your heart rate up, reduce stress, strengthen muscles and bones, improve circulation, as well as burn calories. These exercises can even benefit our technology-hooked kids who think punishment is having to go outside and play.
Many of the exercises learned from the chair activities can be done anytime, anywhere and carried over into your daily routine.
While in line, standing on one leg like a flamingo, you’ll be working on improving your balance. Even the act of rising up on your tiptoes is not just for ballerinas as you stand at your kitchen counter preparing a meal, or bathroom sink brushing your teeth. Other activities can even be done while sitting or standing in church–or not. For those interested in burning calories, standing up and stepping in place during commercials would also help. If you think these exercise look too easy to be of any benefit, try them, you’ll like them, you’ll become a believer. Your body and your brain will thank you. The “feel good” hormones kicking in will be your reward.
How can these exercises that improve our balance, posture and flexibility, strengthen our muscles and bones, and increase endurance, really help in your future? What physical activities do you really enjoy? Are you preparing to do them for many years to come? Will your picture be used one day in a blog as an example of an active senior?
Could you be her partner?
How’s your pedal power?
Will climbing stairs be a challenge?
Will you “strike out” physically?
Your endurance could be such that your children or grandchildren will have a hard time keeping up with you. Maybe you are just hoping that your hips and knees allow you to walk to your favorite fishing hole, shop till you drop, or have the flexibility and strength to continue to bend, lift, dig, and rake in your garden. Believe it or not, even short spurts of physical activity throughout the day can reap big benefits for our life span.
For years I heard that exercise is good for you, blah, blah, blah–I had tuned out. As far as I was concerned, exercise was for everyone who wanted to lose weight and for those who were inactive. However, over the years I would swim, or take yoga or exercise classes, but I bowled on a regular basis because that’s what I really enjoy. Now, I realize that the blah, blah, blah was how regular exercise and physical activity could increase my chances of being able to bend and tie my bowling shoes and throw that bowling ball for years to come. I could continue driving to the bowling lanes because I would be able to turn my head with ease while backing out of the driveway or a parking space. Exercise could mean that I would have the mental awareness to know a strike from a space. Will being bedridden from osteoporosis cancel out bowling? Just in case, I opt for breaking a sweat rather than breaking a bone. The exercises I do to improve my balance and flexibility could keep me dancing without missing a beat. Will depression from poor health silence my singing? Is it up to me to make sure arthritis won’t make playing the piano only a memory? Will a walker replace that brisk walk in the park?
I’m pretty sure we all want to continue doing the activities we enjoy for many more years. And think about the things we do everyday from the time we get up until we go to bed, allowing us to reach our ULTIMATE GOAL–maintaining our independence in our home! Or will be become occupants in a different kind of home?
Reports state that by being physically active and exercising regularly we can reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, protect our brain against memory loss and Alzheimer’s, cut the risk of heart disease, improve sleep, lessen arthritis pain, reduce stress, and boost our mood to eliminate depression. Is that enough to motivate you to put the blah, blah, blah into action?
To see chair exercises demonstrated and short videos for all ages, go to the website of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/exercises/index.html). You can also print out examples of the exercises to show your doctor.
The National Institutes of Health has a FREE 120-page Go4Life Exercise and Physical Activity guide and FREE DVD showing these easy chair and wall exercises for improving endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. It’s like having a personal trainer in your living room , only you can hit pause whenever you need to. (http://www.nia.nih.gov/Go4Life).
CONSULT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE MAKING ANY MAJOR CHANGES.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation (http://www.nof.org)
- American Heart Association (http://www.heart.org)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov)
- National Institutes of Health (http://www.bones.nih.gov)
- American College of Sports Medicine (http://www.acsm.org)
- World Health Organization
- The Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov)