Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Elderly Health Fitness Program

Senior's should consult a doctor before starting an exercise plan.

Guidelines on Exercise in the Elderly
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released new guidelines regarding exercise in individuals over the age of 65. The new recommendations place greater emphasis on the total amount of time spent exercising for the elderly and for the first time, they call for flexibility training as a way to maintain joint range and fitness for adults in general. The recommendations are for 3 to 5 days per week of aerobic exercise, walking, jogging, or other different types of activities that use the major muscle groups, at moderate to moderately high levels of intensity.

The ACSM also recommends stretching of major muscle groups 2 to 3 times a week. These exercises enhance flexibility, a factor that becomes even more important with aging. Elderly adults need to focus on strength and balance training first, before working up to a moderate intensity aerobic exercise.

Neck stretches
Relax shoulders. Slowly roll head in a half circle, right ear over right shoulder, chin over chest, left ear over left shoulder. Reverse direction. Repeat 4 times.

Shoulder shrugs
Lift your shoulders toward your ears. Hold for a count of 5, and then relax. Repeat 8 times.

Deep breathing
Stand or sit up straight, shoulders relaxed. Counting to 5, slowly inhale while raising your arms to form a "V" overhead. Counting to 5 again, exhale and lower your arms. Repeat 5 times. Shake out your arms.

Hand grips
With arms straight out in front of you, stretch your fingers apart for a count of 2, then make a tight fist for a count of 2. Work up to 15 of these. Shake out your arms when you are finished.

Ankle circles
Sit on a chair or the floor with legs uncrossed. Moving your foot, make 5 circles in the air. Repeat in the other direction, and then relax. Switch feet and repeat. Shake out your feet when done.

Sample Exercises
After your warm-ups, you can begin these exercises. Start slowly, doing only a few of each. Gradually work your way up to more exercises over time. Remember to do your cool-downs after your workout.

Lateral waist bends
Stand up tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend to the right, bringing your right arm down the side of your body and your left arm over your head. Look straight ahead and count to 10. Slowly return to the straight-up position. Repeat the exercise, bending to the left side. Work your way up to 5 of these.

Back stretches
Lie down with your back flat on the floor. Bring your knees up to your chest and hug them with your arms. Slowly, counting to 5, bring your forehead as close to your knees as possible. Hold for 5 seconds. Roll your head back down, counting to 5. Work up to 15 of these.

Arm circles
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Extend arms straight out from shoulders, with fingers spread and palms down. Keep buttocks and stomach tight. Rotate your arms in circles, 10 times forward and then 10 times backward. When finished, shake out your arms. Over time, work up to 20 circles in each direction.

Arm reaches
Stand up straight, feet shoulder-width apart. Counting to 5, stretch your right arm to the ceiling while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Repeat with your left arm. Do this 10 times. When finished, shake out your arms.

Heel lifts
Stand up straight, stomach and buttocks tight, and feet shoulder-width apart. Hold on to a chair and roll up on your toes. Hold for a count of 5. Slowly roll back down to the count of 3. Work up to 10 times.

Please contact your doctor before initiating exercise

Call Back Instructions

  • If your symptoms worsen, do not improve or you develop new symptoms with exercise, please call us back for reassessment.

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