When it comes to seniors and fitness, there are a lot of fallacies that misleadingly push seniors to either give up on exercise in its entirety or drive them to only engage in minimal exercise activities.
One of the most common reasons for this is that seniors believe that exercise isn’t safe for them, thinking that age makes them more vulnerable to falls, fractures, and injuries.
The good news is that this is not at all true, and many studies actually show that exercise can cut down on the risks of falls or injuries the older you get because regular exercise helps strengthen your muscles and bones. (Source)
In order to get or stay fit and healthy over the age of fifty (or even 60), it is essential to exercise regularly. This article will look at bodyweight exercises (calisthenics) for seniors, an exercise routine that offers functional strength to seniors.
What Is Calisthenics and How Is It Beneficial?
Calisthenics is commonly called “bodyweight exercises” and simply means any body movement that uses your body weight in conjunction with the Earth’s gravity.
If you recall your early days’ memories of elementary gym classes, the several push-ups, jumping jacks, or sit-ups you did are all considered calisthenic movements.
Other common physical activities that use calisthenics (bodyweight) include jogging, running, bodyweight squats, and movements like lunges and burpees. What makes calisthenics so beneficial is that it can be used in combination with other training programs, can be done by almost anyone, and does not need a gym membership.
Benefits Of Calisthenics For Seniors
Though regular physical activity is beneficial to every person’s physical well-being and mental health, calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) offer seniors something more than just another exercise method. When performed correctly, bodyweight exercises can provide seniors the functional strength. In addition, these exercises help retain existing muscle mass, increase bone density, increase stability, improve posture, prevent falls and injuries, and better control chronic diseases and conditions. In short, calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) open the door to a functional, active, and fuller life.
Why Is calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) Important For Seniors?
Around the age of forty, older adults start to lose muscle mass. This process is known as sarcopenia and is a major contributing reason for seniors’ independence loss and functional decline.
This involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength has serious consequences in older adults, causing fatigue, frailty, disabilities, insulin resistance, and mortality.
Though there are many causes of sarcopenia, body weight exercises (calisthenics) can help fight the age-related disability to replace and replenish skeletal muscle mass. So how do calisthenics fight age-related muscle mass? First, it increases a senior’s ability to create, strengthen, and gain muscle.
Other Benefits Of Body Weight Exercises (Calisthenics) For Seniors
- According to the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, they help improve the coordination abilities of the seniors over 3 to 6 months of training.
- They can be done anywhere because you need no equipment. You can do them in a park, at your home, or in a gym. For example, if you find a regular push-up too difficult, you can do easier versions like knee pushups or pushups against a wall and work your way up.
- You can try to do them even if you have health issues. You do not need to perform a 60-minutes session doing calisthenics, as 10-20 minutes can be good enough to help you develop muscle mass and strength. Then you can try to progress at your own pace, gradually to match your newfound strength.
- Calisthenics (Body weight exercises) are a kind of cardiovascular workout and are effective for losing fat loss, gaining muscle, and controlling weight.
Calisthenic Movements (Body Weight Exercises) for Beginners & Seniors?
Beginners who want to start small or seniors with limiting health conditions such as high blood pressure or knees problem should consider the following three bodyweight exercises (calisthenic movements). However, they should check with their doctor before starting.
Chair squats are a senior-friendly exercise that is great for strengthening your entire lower body and strengthening important leg muscles like quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They will make it easier for you to stand up, get out of cars, enable you to bend over and pick things up off the floor and walk up the stairs with ease.
You need to stand in front of a chair, facing away from it. Keep your feet about hip-width distance apart, with toes pointing straight ahead or slightly outward.
Keep your chest high, head straight looking ahead, and spine neutral. Tighten your core, bend your knees, and lower your hips down while pushing them back as if sitting on a chair. You may want to raise your arms out in front for balance while lowering down. Allow your butt to tap the chair gently, but don’t sit down. Squeeze your glutes and straighten your legs back to the starting position while driving your hips forward. You may do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Lying Hip Bridges
This movement works the muscles in the backs of your legs, opens up your hips, and stretches your low back and core all at once. It hits the glutes the hardest and is perfect for individuals who sit all day long.
To perform a basic hip bridge, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, press through your heels and push your hips up. Squeeze your glutes. Keep your back straight so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to shoulders at the top position. Hold your hips high at the top position for a few seconds, then lower them back down to the floor and repeat. Do 2-3 sets of 10 bridges.
Focus on slow, controlled movements instead of rushing. That will help you establish the proper form for the most effective workout.
This exercise helps improve upper-body strength in your chest and arms. To do wall pushups, stand about an arm’s length from the wall with your feet hip-width apart. Next, place both palms on the wall at roughly shoulder-width apart and shoulder-level height, with your fingers, pointed toward the ceiling.
Slowly bend your elbows diagonally to your sides and begin to lean your chest toward the wall until your nose nearly touches it. Keep your back straight and spine neutral. Then, slowly push through your hands back to the starting position.
Note: The closer you are to the wall at the start of the exercise, the easier it is to perform.
Other common calisthenic movements (body weight exercises) that seniors can do include planks, dead bugs, jumping jacks, knee raises, jumping lunges, tuck jumps, and walking.
The Takeaway: You Are Never Too Old to Workout
Contrary to popular mistaken belief, seniors over the age of sixty are not too old to exercise. They can reap substantial benefits from doing bodyweight exercises or calisthenic workout routines. Besides being able to build muscle and have a strong physical body, seniors who exercise with calisthenics are able to live an independent active life.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”