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Not only is regular exercise recommended for all people most days of the week, it's a fountain of youth, according to the National Institutes of Health. Staying active even in your elder years can bring back vitality, prevent a host of diseases and conditions, and help you stay limber and strong to prevent common problems such as falls. If you're just starting a fitness routine, include endurance exercise such as walking or swimming, as well as strength training and balance exercises that can help you maintain and build muscle strength. When you're just starting out with strength training, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends doing exercises that use just your own body weight, to slowly tone and strengthen muscles.
Stand on one foot and hold the other in the air behind you. If you need to, have a chair nearby that you can grab onto in case you get off-balance. After holding yourself on one leg for a minute or so, switch to the other leg. This is one exercise recommended by the National Institute on Aging to improve balance. Another idea is to try to walk through your environment without holding on to chairs, tables or desks, and to try to get out of a chair without holding onto anything.
Perform shoulder shrugs to strengthen the neck and shoulders. Stand with your legs in a comfortable position, then raise your shoulders toward your ears. Hold for a half-second, then let your shoulders drop back down. Repeat eight to 10 times.
Sit in a chair and perform leg extensions to strengthen your hip flexors and abdominal muscles. Sit at the edge of the chair, holding your abdominal muscles tight, and place your hands on the side of the chair for balance. Then lift one leg off the ground until it is straight in front of you at waist height. Carefully lower the leg back down, then raise the opposite leg. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times on each leg.
Raise your leg forward and backward to work the hip flexors, abdomen, lower back and buttocks. Stand behind a chair, with the chair at your left or right hip. Hold on to the chair with your hand as you first raise one knee toward your chest, as high as you can. Then lower it and raise the opposite leg. Repeat this exercise five times on each leg. Then face the chair and place both hands on the back, in preparation for a leg swing move. Swing one leg back as far as it will go, then slowly and deliberately move it back to standing. Repeat this move 10 times on each leg.
Perform modified squats to work the muscles of the legs. Stand at the back of a chair, facing the chair. Place both hands on the back of the chair and keep your feet close together. Bend both knees and sink down a few inches, then come back to standing. Repeat this exercise 10 times, or as many as you can manage.
- Once you are confident with beginner exercises and can do all the recommended repetitions without taking a break, incorporate a second set of repetitions for each exercise. When that becomes easy, incorporate dumbbells into your routine, doing exercises such as bicep curls, calf raises and shoulder shrugs.