Balance Workout Benefits and Total Gym Exercises for Seniors:
Have you ever almost slipped by accident causing you to grab onto something or someone, sending your heart pumping into high gear? If so you know how it feels to experience a loss of balance just going about your daily life activities. As we age there are usually a number of factors involved with decreased balance and a lot of it comes down to inactivity. Some simple strength training exercises, and balance specific movements utilizing the Total Gym can change all that.
For some of you who are currently going to physical therapy or have been in the past, you may have seen or used a Total Gym during your therapy. The advantage to using the Total Gym during and after physical therapy is its unique design that enables you to raise and lower the rails to accommodate your own fitness and flexibility level.
Strength and Balance Exercises for Seniors Using the Total Gym
As we age it becomes even more important to begin each exercise routine with a proper warm-up. Start slowly with the first few warm-up exercises. If you feel it is needed, have a helpful person around (family member or friend) to make yourself feel more confident and secure during the workout routine.
- Seated ankle circles (10 times each side)
- Quad Stretch
- Hamstring Stretch with Chair Assistance
- Shoulder and Upper Back Stretch
- Overhead Reach
The bi-lateral squat is an important exercise to begin with as it targets some of our largest muscle groups used to perform everyday activities, such as walking, standing, and getting up and down in a chair throughout the day.
- Bring the rails down to a mid to low level
- Disconnect the pulley from the glideboard, push the glideboard halfway up the rails, slowly straddle the rails while sitting towards the bottom edge facing away from the tower
- Place your feet toward the top of the squat stand, positioned shoulder width apart, and slowly lie back ensuring your head is fully supported. Rest your hands on the side of the glideboard or cross arms over your abdomen if it’s more comfortable
- Slowly lower the glideboard by bending both knees and hips to around 90 degrees. Press the feet into the squat stand and ensure the knees track over the feet throughout the movement
- Perform two sets of ten reps with a short break in between
- Remaining in the same position as the bi-lateral squat with your feet now positioned toward the bottom of the squat stand shoulder width apart
- Rest your hands across the chest or lightly behind the ears
- Contract the abdominal muscles to raise your shoulder blades away from the guideboard
- Maintaining tension in the abs, slowly lower the torso until the shoulder blades lightly touch the glideboard then return to the initial position
- Remember to keep your abs engaged throughout the entire set of repetitions
- Perform two sets of ten reps with a short break in between
- Come off to one side of your Total Gym and stand with your arms by your sides or on the hips. Keep feet shoulder width apart
- Step forward keeping your trunk vertical. Push back up to the starting position
- If you want to add some challenge, look at eye level while stepping forward, or use two to five pound weights in each hand
- Perform two sets of ten reps on each side with a short break in between
- Stand using a chair to balance yourself
- Rise up on your toes as high as you comfortably can
- To take it up a notch use a finger or one hand to hold onto the chair
- Return to the starting position and perform two sets of ten reps with a short break in between
Upright Row / Unilateral Row with Rotation
- With the rails positioned at a low to mid-level, grasp the handles and pull the glideboard halfway up the rails. Straddle the rails and sit towards the top edge of the glideboard facing the tower
- With tension in the cables, extend arms directly toward the pulleys and lift feet off the floor, palms face in
- From an upright seated position, pull the handles straight back, until hands reach the sides of the torso. Maintain good posture as the hands return with control back to the starting position
- To add some variation, place both handles in your right hand, pull the handles straight back, and add a slight torso rotation as you look to the right side maintaining strong posture as the hands return to the starting position. Remember to repeat on both sides
- Perform two sets of ten on each side with a short break in between
Torso Rotation with Movement Variations
- Grasp one handle to bring the glideboard up the rails. Stand facing away from the rails and anchor the handle down near the top edge of the glideboard. Sit back and face sideways into a secure position
- With tension in the cable, slowly raise your feet off the floor and lift the handle from the guideboard. Grab the handle with both hands and position the elbows at the sides of the torso. Create a triangle between the handles, forearms and trunk
- Using a twisting motion from the waist, rotate the spine away from the tower, maintaining the triangle shape between the forearms and the trunk. Maintain a stable, upright posture, and slowly rotate the torso toward the tower
- To add some movement variation and target the oblique muscles, remain in the same torso rotation position, keep the handle in both hands and reach up into an incline torso rotation while your eyes follow your hands
- Once you have completed the incline torso rotation, perform the decline rotation by moving the handle in a downward position to target the external oblique muscle group
The Total Gym machine allows for a stable, safe, and secure way to build body strength, resulting in improved balance and posture. These recommended exercises are intended to assist seniors, and others who’re going through physical therapy and may be experiencing challenges with balance. Plan to incorporate these strength exercises into your daily routine and stay active to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
Have these strength and balance exercises been helpful to you? Send us a photo or email us a description. We would love to hear from you.