Simple Exercises to Help Stay Fit
Michelle MishaFit Nguyen, MSHA, CPT, SFS and Stephen Z. Fadem, M.D., FASN
Exercising does not have to be harsh or rigorous. In fact, it can be a fun part of your day. To benefit from exercising, you do not need to use heavy weights. Light weights with multiple reps are also effective. The purpose of daily exercise for most people with kidney disease is to stay healthy and strong. Leave the heavy weights for those who are truly interested in bodybuilding.
MARCH IN PLACE WITH ARM SWINGS
This is a simple but great exercise for seniors to help improve balance and core stability. To perform this exercise, simply swing the arms back and forth while bringing the knees as high as you can (or until the thigh is parallel to the floor). If performed correctly, one arm should swing forward in sync with the opposite leg. Be sure to engage your core. Marching in place during commercial breaks or even for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day is a wonderful way to increase activity and burn calories.
Although the step-up exercise pictured is performed on a BOSU “Both Sides Up” ball, you can use a step, a small stool, or a stairway. To perform this exercise, lead and drive up with your right foot on an elevated platform and follow with the other foot until both feet are together. Step down with your left foot then follow with the right foot until both feet are on the floor. Perform the desired number of repetitions. Then repeat leading with the left foot and stepping down with the right foot. This exercise helps improve balance. It also works out your lower body muscles, including your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Practicing this step-up exercise will help with other activities such as climbing stairs.
SIT TO STAND
This functional exercise strengthens the legs, core, and back muscles. This is a great mobility exercise for seniors to help practice moving from a seated to a standing position and is important because we move from sitting to standing several times a day. To perform this exercise, inhale through your nose while seated, allowing oxygen to fill your lungs. Stand up tall and exhale as you engage your core. As you sit back down, lean slightly forward while keeping your knees behind your toes. While keeping your back straight and chest up, slowly drop your hips back and down until you are seated.
If you like taking tests, here is your chance. The chair stand test is part of the Senior Fitness Test, also known as the Fullerton Functional Fitness Test. The goal is designed to test the functional fitness of seniors and assess leg strength and endurance as they stand up repeatedly from a chair for 30 seconds. For this particular test, arms are to be folded together across the chest with hands placed on the opposite shoulder. Scoring is based on the number of times an individual is able to come to a full standing position in 30 seconds. A below-average score indicates a risk for falls. For instance, for ages 60-64, men who score < 14 and women < 12 are considered below average. For ages 65-69, men < 12 and women < 11 are considered below average. For ages 70-74, men < 12 and women < 10 are considered below average. The sit to stand exercise is probably the most important of the mobility exercises for seniors. Practice makes perfect!
DUMBBELL SIDE LATERAL RAISE
This exercise will build your shoulders and increase shoulder mobility. Stick with low weight and increase the number of reps. There is no reason to hurt yourself. To begin, stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand at your side, palms facing down. Lift your arms up to near shoulder height. Exhale as you lift your arms away from the body. Inhale as you lower your arms back down towards the body. Perform the desired number of repetitions.
DUMBBELL HAMMER CURL
This is a relatively simple exercise to master and a great way to begin building your biceps with dumbbells. The hammer curl will help build forearms, biceps, as well as grip strength. Start with dumbbells hanging at your sides, palms facing each other. Keeping the dumbbells in neutral position, curl the dumbbells until they reach shoulder-level but don’t actually touch the shoulders. Squeeze your biceps and engage your core for a few counts. Then inhale as you lower the dumbbells to starting position. Perform the desired number of repetitions.
ONE ARM BENT OVER TRICEP KICKBACK
Standing with your back as straight as you can, bend over and place one hand on the bench, a dumbbell in the other hand. Focusing on contracting the triceps one at a time, row the dumbbell into position, keeping your elbow close to your side. As you exhale, extend the elbow while flexing the triceps for a few counts. Next, bend the elbow and repeat for a desired number of repetitions. In addition to working the triceps, this exercise enhances stability and flexibility in the arms and shoulders.
RESISTANCE BAND STANDING ROW
Resistance exercises help build muscle and strength. Resistance bands are inexpensive and very effective. To begin this exercise, properly secure the band to a pole at chest level. Hold the band and walk backward until you feel slight tension. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up, and head straight. With your arms out in front of you, exhale as you pull your elbows back until they are even with your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Engage your core. Hold for a few counts. Inhale as you return to starting position. Repeat for a desired number of repetitions.
LATERAL HOPS USING DUMBBELLS
Jumping rope (with or without the rope) is an excellent choice for seniors because it is lighter on the joints than running. It is a total body workout that helps increase agility and strength. In addition to jumping rope, hopping and even sidestep hops help improve bone density, increase metabolism, as well as increase your endurance. Impact exercises are not for everyone, so you should first check with your doctor.
Lateral hops holding dumbbells is a great exercise. Simply hop from side to side holding light dumbbells. If it is too difficult to hop from side to side, then hop in place. It is helpful to hop side to side over an imaginary line. Weight-bearing exercises help make bones stronger and denser. Weight-bearing exercises can also reduce the risk of fractures and improve strength and joint mobility.