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Easy exercises for strength, balance, and mobility

January 26, 2023
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No matter your age or level of ability, four types of exercises can help your body perform at its best. According to the National Institute on Aging, research shows it is important to work at endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

Exercise does not have to be intense or overly challenging to have benefits. Simple movements can help build your mobility and reduce your boredom. Over time, the physical gains you make from these exercises can help prevent falls and other common causes of injury. You may even be able to reduce your risk of heart disease by following an exercise regimen.

  1. Endurance exercises help the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Eventually, they may improve your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Examples of endurance activities include brisk walking or jogging, hiking, dancing, swimming, and aqua therapy. Hand crank cycling or using a manual wheelchair also builds your endurance.
  2. Strength exercises build muscles to make it easier to complete everyday tasks. You don’t have to lift weights to train your muscles (unless you want to)! Tightly gripping a tennis ball or using a light resistance band are both ways to build muscle strength. You can even practice lifting your arms or legs without any weights or equipment until you are more comfortable.
  3. Balance exercises – you guessed it! – improve your balance. If possible, practicing standing from a seated position is one simple way to better your balance. As you become more comfortable, you can practice walking while rolling your foot from heel-to-toe with each step. Standing on one foot, or even yoga or tai chi, are more advanced exercises to improve your balance.
  4. Flexibility comes from stretching your muscles. Increased flexibility helps with common needs like reaching down to put on socks and shoes and rotating your head fully from side to side. Raising your arms above your head (or as high as you can) from a seated position is one stretch for beginners. Leg stretches can be done with the support of a wall or countertop for assistance.

For older adults (aged 65 and older), the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking. At least two days a week of activities that strengthen muscles are also recommended. However, a realistic baseline is different for every person. Most importantly, some physical activity is always better than none at all.

Remember to start slow and listen to your body. Always take deep breaths and allow yourself to rest as needed. Beginners may need to start slowly, but any amount of activity is good for you. And don’t forget: you should always talk to your primary care provider before starting any new exercise program.

Visit the CDC website for more guidance on exercise and physical activity at any age and level of ability.

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