by Central Washington Senior Times

It would be difficult to find a senior citizen who does not know that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of a variety of serious ailments. An active lifestyle, however, can become challenging as aging bodies become more susceptible to arthritis, joint pains, and other health problems. To celebrate National Senior Health Fitness Day recently, Bay Alarm Medical suggested five activities that seniors can do to exercise easily and safely in their homes.

Balancing- Although balancing isn’t an obvious part of exercising, everyday activities require the ability to control your body’s position. From getting out of bed, to walking on an uneven sidewalk, and standing on tiptoes to reach a high shelf, many daily activities involve balance. A few gentle, at-home exercises done daily are essential to enhancing body coordination and decreasing the risk of falling. Some great balance activities include marching in place and “tightrope’ walking or walking by placing one foot’s heel directly in front of the other foot’s toes. If alone, take precautions to exercise next to a chair or railing that can be used for support.

Endurance Activities- Endurance, or aerobic activities, increase your breathing and heart beat, which helps to improve heart and lung health. This can make chores like vacuuming and raking the yard easier to do. One of the easiest forms of endurance work is brisk walking. If you have balance or joint trouble, start by walking on flat surfaces or indoors at a mall. You can also take exercise classes at your local community or senior center. As much as possible, try to exercise with another person, whether in your home or outside. Even healthy bodies can suffer sudden strains or accidents. During the times when you are exercising alone, you can feel more confident about your safety by wearing a medical alert device that allows you to instantly call for emergency help should you need it. Companies like Bay Alarm Medical offer medical alert devices that instantly call emergency services with the touch of a button in case of a fall, dizziness or other in-home accidents.

Strength Training- Strength exercises help build up muscle and bone, counteracting the weakness that can come with aging. Even slight improvements in muscle strength can go a long way in facilitating independence and to be able to do activities like carrying groceries, sweeping, and getting up from a chair. Seated movements such as toe stands, knee curls, and leg extensions do not require dumbbells. Do strength-training exercises two to three times a week rather than daily, so muscles can recover, and you slowly, safely build intensity.Stretches- As we age, connective tissues become less elastic so stretching is fundamental to maintaining a functioning range of motion. Stretching should not cause pain or serious fatigue. Make sure to warm your muscles briefly prior to stretching. Take in deep breaths in each stretch for up to 60 seconds for maximum benefit and always be aware of position of your spine.

Video Games- Seniors are joining the world of video games, which are also a great way to connect with children and grandchildren. With popular video game consoles such as Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinnect, seniors can improve their fitness at home, mixing workouts with fun. The Wii offers a variety of games such as bowling, tennis, dancing, yoga and more, which are suitable for any age and physical level. Because the games are very interactive and have a realistic feel, playing video games can give the same adrenaline rush as workout, but in a safer environment. While it may take a while to incorporate a regular exercise routine in your everyday, taking just a few minutes a day to be more active is critical to maintaining a healthy and independent lifestyle. Most importantly, ensure home safety by discussing your exercises and progress with loved ones and doctors, or investing in a medical alert device as a safety measure.