Exercise is an essential part of healthy living, and it becomes increasingly more important as you age. What’s different in your 60s from earlier years is that your requirements are changing.
Working out is not just about losing weight and getting six-pack abs. But rather, it’s about keeping your body stronger, mobile, and flexible. As you get older, you naturally lose some muscle mass, strength, and range of motion. Your body becomes more prone to injury, back pain, and stiffness.
The right type of exercise can help you keep your body fit and combat some of the physical declines that come with aging. It adds years to your life and helps you sustain an active, independent life. In your 60s and beyond, you want to specifically focus on functional strengthening exercises.
Those exercises help you train your body for everyday movements like walking, driving, climbing, and rotating. They also activate the muscles you need in your daily life and strengthen them for better performance.
Here are the 3 most important exercises you need after 60.
1. Single-leg balance
The single-leg balance is an excellent lower-body exercise to build balance and stability.
It also adds ankle stability that prevents falls, fractures, and injury.
It’s easy to take balance and stability for granted. But as you age, you start to notice a decline in those abilities. Exercise like this helps you train your body for stability and endure low and high-impact activities.
Though it’s simple and still in nature, it’s still a weight-bearing activity that requires core, leg, and hip strength. Single-leg balance is also said to improve your bone health and osteoporosis.
To balance your body on one leg in good form, your body recruits the spinal and posture-stabilizing muscles, promoting good posture.
Also, the involvement of your upper body activates the entire core that wraps your lower back, side abs, to the front abdominis.
Another benefit of this low-impact balance exercise is that it is functional. It trains you for everyday movements like getting off the floor, getting up from a chair, and climbing the stairs.
It’s one exercise you can perform anywhere and should be at the core of your active life.
Aim to perform this exercise 3-4 days a week. Better yet, make it a part of your morning routine to practice this on a daily basis.
How to perform a single leg balance exercise
*If you have any medical condition including osteoporosis, be sure to consult your local physician before starting any new exercise.
- Stand on the side of a sturdy chair or counter that’s about waist-high. Place your feet as close together.
- Slowly bend your one knee and raise the same side’s foot off the ground in front of you. You can hold the chair for assistance if needed.
- Raise your knee as high as you feel comfortable and hold the position for a few seconds. Slowly lower your leg down to return to the starting position.
- Switch sides and repeat. That’s one rep. Repeat several times and aim to hold it for longer to test your balance.
- Raise your leg as high as it feels comfortable and hold it for 5 seconds. Then lower your leg slowly to the ground and repeat with the opposite leg.
2. Bird dog (core strength, hips, balance)
Bird dog is one exercise that benefits older adults.
This simple, core-building exercise benefits your balance, stability, range of motion, and posture.
It’s a low-impact strength builder that engages your entire body.
Your core which refers to the muscles that make up your trunk is like a foundation. All body movements either originate or come through there.
A stronger core is able to support upper body movements as well as promote proper posture.
It also allows your lower body to function and maintain stability and balance.
How to perform a bird dog:
- Start in a tabletop position on all fours with your hands and knees on the ground.
- Keeping your back flat and core engaged, extend your arm out in front of you and straighten the opposing leg.
- Slowly bring them back to the starting position and switch sides.
- That’s one rep. Aim for 2 sets of 10 reps per side.
3. Reverse Snow Angel
The reverse snow angel is a floor exercise that enhances your shoulder mobility, core strength, and upper back muscles.
It focuses on the spinal stabilizing muscles and promotes posture correction.
This is essential for older adults as their loss of lean muscle mass often negatively affects their posture as they age.
Also, upper-body mobility and flexibility are often under-trained.
It’s easy to neglect the use of your shoulders, arms, and back when legs and glutes are in constant use with walking, cycling, and climbing.
The reverse snow angel is a gentle way to engage the shoulder’s external rotators and core stability.
It helps you reduce shoulder and neck pain and gain a greater range of motion.
How to perform the reverse snow angel:
- Lying face down on the floor, extend your legs and rest your arms by your sides. Lift your chest up and straighten your arms forward.
- Keep your back flat and pull the shoulder blades. Stroke your arms back to the side of your thighs while keeping your core engaged.
- Pause for a few seconds and release your shoulder blades. Return your arms forward to the starting position.