Elderly grandparent keeps an active lifestyle by engaging in physical activity with family

Aerobic and Strengthening Exercises Are Equally Important for the Elderly

As ah gong and ah ma get on in age, you know it gets increasingly important for them to eat well and stay active.

What can you do to help them lead an active lifestyle? Loads, in fact. Remember all the times they took you to the playground when you were young? Now’s your turn to nudge them to stay active with regular physical activity.

In conjunction with Grandparents’ Day on November 26 this year, you can give them the gift of health by becoming their personal fitness pal!

Besides bringing them for walks around the park, why not help them to do strength exercises and balance exercises too?

Exercises to Do While Sitting Down

This is where the 7 Sit-Down Exercises come in real handy; these exercises can be performed sitting or standing. If granny has a weak right or left knee, try these exercises sitting down first.

By doing these strength-training exercises for seniors at least twice a week, these exercises can help your grandparents move better, improve balance, build strength and feel more upbeat brisk walking in the evening or when they go marketing. They might even feel strong enough to start learning tai chi! 

Exercise also lowers blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy heart rate.

Related: 7 Easy Exercises to an Active Lifestyle

How to Get the Elderly to Exercise

You may face some resistance from ah ma and ah gong when you first discuss this with them, especially if they haven’t been exercising regularly. Ease them into the idea with these tips:

Older adults should consult a doctor before starting any exercise routine 

1. Get the Green Light from Their Doctor

Before starting any exercise routine, check that your grandparents are medically fit to exercise.

Ask your grandparents if they have any pre-existing conditions. If they are not sure or not feeling well, it’s best to consult their GP or visit the nearest polyclinic first. You can start them slow and step up the intensity once they feel more confident.

2. Sell the Benefits

The 7 Sit-Down exercises may look simple but they pack a punch when it comes to improving their strength, balance and flexibility. You can share the benefits of the exercises with your grandparents such as being able to carry more groceries, stand more stably in bus/train and feel more energetic.

Daughter-father duo practicing tai chi

3. Pick the Right Time

Bring up the idea when there’s nothing else distracting them. Once they have tried the workout and feel more confident, they can do the exercises anywhere, anytime, even while watching their favourite drama series on TV.

4. Get the Right Props

Since the exercises are done seated, they will need a sturdy chair and be able to sit comfortably on it. Sit upright, and do not sit right at the edge of your chair. Forget swivel office chairs or lightweight stools. The chair needs to be of weight and come with a backrest. Those in a wheelchair must remember to lock the wheels.

In addition, get them a towel that is at least an arm’s length and make sure they have sufficient space to move safely.

Elderly performing strength-training exercises which can be done standing or sitting down

5. Watch the Video

For a start, download the 30-minute demonstration video and watch it together with your grandparents. You can show them where to locate the video on their computer or mobile device if they need to watch it again on their own. The video is available in four languages. If your ah ma and ah gong are dialect speakers, help to translate for them where needed.

They can watch the video and follow the step-by-step exercises at the same time. Or you can print out the poster for them to review the instructions at a glance.

6. Work Out Together

To ease them in, do the exercises with your grandparents and check that they are doing the movements safely and correctly. Show them what it means to “return to the starting position and repeat”. Increase the number of repetitions gradually. Instead of going from 1 to 15 times, go from 1 to 3, then to 5 repetitions.

Plus, if you make it light-hearted, you can be sure that even older adults who are more reserved will be inclined to join in the fun.

Even better, rope in the rest of the family to make this a bonding affair. Any aches or funny moments from doing these exercises will become your family’s shared experiences. Laughter can help exercise our abdominal muscles too!

Mother-daughter duo smiling after brisk walking outdoors

7. Consistency Is Everything

What if your grandparents aren’t sticking to the twice-weekly workout plan? How about reminding them if they forget to do the exercises? And if they have been following the schedule, be their personal cheerleader by praising their efforts.

As a bonus, offer them a pampering shoulder massage each time they complete the exercises. Or treat them to a foot massage, especially if Grandma been complaining about soreness in her left foot!

Related: Rewire After You Retire

Introduce the 7 Sit-Down Exercises to your grandparents today. Visit HealthyAgeing.sg/GetMoving where you can download the demonstration video and poster for a step-by-step guide.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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