Stability Ball Exercises for Seniors
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, seniors who perform muscle-building exercises can achieve muscles resembling those of people in their 20s and 30s. However, many seniors do not engage in the strength training necessary to build muscles. Although it is lightweight, a stability ball can provide a strength-training workout that also emphasizes balance. Choose a stability ball that allows your legs to form a 90-degree angle while seated. If stability is a concern for you, place the back of the ball against a wall to prevent wobbling.
As you age, the muscles surrounding your hips can become tight and inflexible. This is of special concern to seniors because mobility can be affected. This stability ball exercise targets the hip flexor muscles. The core muscles also are engaged through proper posture. While seated on the stability ball with your legs at a 90-degree angle and feet firmly on the floor, move the ball in a clockwise motion to make one circular rotation with your hips. Although it may be challenging, keep your feet on the floor as much as possible — this will give you a better stretch. Repeat this clockwise circle between five and eight times, then repeat on the opposite side.
Leg lifts help strengthen the quadriceps muscles found on the front of the leg. Having this strength can help seniors support the knee area. If you are a senior with less flexibility, lift the leg only as high as it will comfortably go. Don’t force the motion too high. While seated on an exercise ball with feet planted firmly on the floor and hands on either side of you for support, lift one leg from the bent position to flexed and straight in front of you. Your knee should serve as the “hinge” of this motion. Hold at the top of the extension for five seconds and exhale, then return to the ground. Now, switch to the other leg.
This exercise is designed to increase a senior’s flexibility, hip flexor strength and even cardiac capacity when performed at a steady pace. Begin seated on the stability ball with the feet flat on the floor and the back straight.
Lift one knee toward the chest, then return to the floor. Next, lift the other knee to the chest. Begin slowly to ensure that you have control of your balance – don’t try to do too much at once. Eventually, work your way up to 20 medium-paced repetitions. This exercise can be performed up to three sets.