29 September, 2011
Small Ball Exercises for Senior Citizens
Physical activity benefits seniors in numerous ways. Exercise helps build bone density, improves mobility and strengthens muscles. It also helps seniors remain independent and mentally alert. A small ball provides resistance during exercise and using it challenges the muscles and improves coordination skills. Use a ball that is about 9 inches in diameter and made of rubber or plastic, but not foam. Foam balls don't provide enough resistance to challenge your muscles. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
The ball chest press strengthens the chest and arm muscles. Hold the ball with both hands, sit on a chair and straighten your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles and position the ball in front of your chest. Lift your elbows by your sides, so your bent arms are parallel to the floor. Push the ball forward, extending and straightening your arms. Pull the ball back to your chest without lowering your arms. Complete 12 to 15 reps, stopping when your arms and chest are fatigued.
This exercise strengthens the shoulders and arms. Hold the ball with both hands, sit on a chair and place your feet on the floor in front of you. Lift your chin so it is parallel to the floor and pull your shoulder blades down and together. Lift your arms in front of your shoulders, parallel to the floor. Straighten your wrists, bend your elbows slightly and form small clockwise circles with your arms. Do this for 30 seconds, switch directions and circle for 30 more seconds. Do this without lowering your arms.
Build strength in your triceps, the back of the arms, with overhead extensions. Sit on a chair, hold the ball with both hands and straighten your back. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the ball overhead. Press your arms against your ears and relax your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower the ball behind your head. Do this without flaring your elbows to the sides. Lift the ball overhead. Complete 12 to 15 reps, stopping when the back of your arms fatigue.
This exercise strengthens the sides of your stomach, the obliques. Hold the ball with both hands, sit on a chair and straighten your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles, bend your elbows and lift the ball in front of your belly button. Relax your shoulder blades and lift your chin so it is parallel to the floor. While keeping your hips still, twist your torso and the ball to your right. Return to the center, pause and then twist to your left. Repeat this pattern 12 to 15 times, stopping when your abdominal muscles fatigue.
The inner thigh squeeze strengthens the thighs. Sit on the edge of a chair, straighten your back and place the ball between your thighs. Tighten your thigh muscles and press against the ball with your legs. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the exercise until your muscles are fatigued.
- National Institute on Aging: Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Strength Training for Older Adults
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- The University of Georgia: Chair Exercises for Older Adults
- Stockbyte/DigitalVision/Getty Images