At-home exercises for retired people can be an efficient way to bridge the gap between health and comfort. After spending years laboring hard in the work-force, spending time commuting and sitting behind desks or working long hours on the floor it can be a blessing to be able to enjoy the comfort of one’s home. Comfort can at times get in the way of the regular exercise our bodies need in order to stay physically as well as mentally fit.
Dr. David Irvine has extensive experience treating patients who suffer from joint and tendon disease which can sometimes occur due to lack of sufficient resistance exercises. Let’s spend some time and talk about how an active retired person can remain healthy by following a few exercises at home, whether in the comfort of the living room or braving the outdoors.
How does inactivity lead to weaker joints and tendons?
Looking at the human body one might think that the parts make up the whole. However, unlike a car, the body doesn’t have components which can be treated as stand-alone parts. The knee, for example, requires adequate muscle mass in the hamstrings, gluteus muscles as well as the calves in order to protect it during exercise or even when going for a walk.
Strength is not the only factor, tendons are part of the equation as well, requiring adequate elasticity in order to allow proper movement of the knee-joint. Weak tendons can allow for unstable motions of the knee and if in turn these structures are too tight they may cause excess wear and tear of the sensitive joint surfaces.
In medicine we have learned that a sedentary lifestyle inevitably will lead to decreased muscle mass and tighter tendon structures. The main reason for this is nerve stimulation, the lack of which decreases the blood supply to these structures causing them to become less important to the body which in turn causes degeneration – or simply put, if you don’t use it, you might lose it.
Combining daily indoor activities with exercise
You likely have common daily routines at home which may offer some relaxation such as listening to podcasts, reading a magazine or watching entertainment/news on TV. Combining exercise with such activities is the most efficient way to get mental as well as physical stimulation.
- Stand at the kitchen counter with you feet close together, flex your calves and raise your heels off the floor and lower your weight down to a count of 5 seconds.
- When seated on that comfy couch raise one leg at a time up to the level of your pelvis and lower it down and repeat with the other leg.
- When listening to your favorite podcast or news source stand with your feet at arm’s-length away from the wall and gently lower your weight into the wall, performing a standing push-up.
- Don’t forget that cleaning your home manually is an exercise by itself. A good rubdown of the counters and that circular polishing motion of the interior mirrors will definitely get your heart pumping and provide a wonderful upper body resistance exercise.
- A couple of inexpensive 10-lb dumbbells should be used to perform biceps curls by standing erect with arms at your sides while flexing the biceps and bringing the weights to your shoulder.
- A variation of the above exercise is to then go from the flexed biceps position directly into an overhead press by pushing the dumbbells over your head and straightening the arms as if reaching for the stars.
Exercising the body in your outdoor space
- Gardening is one of the most meditative and laborious activities you can do in your outdoor space. Aerating the lawn, plucking weeds, planting flours and vegetables serve as wonderful exercises.
- If you have room for potted plants consider adding them to your garden, besides requiring watering such plants need to be regularly re-potted – this is less of a chore and more of an exercise – said the optimistic doctor.
- Consider waking up early and performing a Tai chi routine before you start your day either out on your patio, in front of some beautiful plants or under the shade of your tree.
- Don’t let those stairs stop you, if you have stairs leading up to the house then turn on some music and go up and down them daily to provide stronger quads and calves.
Limitations to exercise
At our practice we often encounter patients who have given up exercising either because they are unable to get to a nearby gym or are limited by aches and pains.
The former is easily remedied by performing some simple home exercises as outlined above. Get creative and use common household items to perform resistance exercises.
The latter is a common concern. Patients often associate pain with causing damage. This isn’t always the case but it certainly is worth investigating. If you are trying to be more active but constantly experience pain in a specific part of your body please don’t ignore it. Dr. Irvine’s experience with muscles, ligaments and joint pains allows him to differentiate between benign pains which can be overcome with changes to your exercise routine while identifying more serious disease processes which may require proper intervention such as advanced arthritis, frayed tendons, inflamed joint surfaces etc.
We hope that you gained some useful tips from this article regarding home exercises. If you are experiencing aches or pains while doing them please contact us so that we can guide your exercise better.