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Is sitting in a recliner bad for you?/your hip, back, legs, circulation

You can find reclining chairs (or recliners) in many furniture stores or online, and even in medical appliance stores. My advice to you is to buy one that you have tried out for comfort and choose one from a good and well-known manufacturer.

Recliners allow the back and neck rest to lean back, while the leg rest lifts to support the lower half of your body. Some recliners are spring-loaded, only requiring the user to operate a lever and lean backward. While others are fully powered using an electric motor.

Whichever one you decide to buy, you need to follow some simple rules to get the most out of it and avoid any unwanted medical problems.

Is it bad to sleep in a recliner every night?

The simple answer is “Yes”. There are two main reasons why you should be wary of sleeping in a recliner every night.

  1. If you sit in one during the day to watch television or read, and then sleep in it during the night, you’ll miss out on basic exercise, even if it’s a short walk from armchair to bed.
  2. Recliners don’t allow you to move in your sleep. Adjusting your position in bed prevents staying in the same position and developing pressure sores. If you stay in a recliner for most of your waking life, you might develop pressure sores because you aren’t moving. The simple instruction is that you shouldn’t stay there at night. Also, get up and walk around and exercise every hour or so.

RELATED: Tips on how to improve walking in seniors

Probably, there won’t be any harm in sleeping through until morning now and again, as you’re obviously getting some really restful and continuous sleep. But, if you find yourself sleeping in a recliner every night, then you need to work out why you’re doing this and try to fix the problem.

Can a recliner cause hip pain?

This depends on whether your recliner gives the correct support for the lumbar region. Sitting upright, with 90 degrees between your spine and thighs, puts all your body weight onto your hip joints and can cause a lot of pain. With a recliner, however, your body weight is spread over a larger area.

Another problem to be aware of is that the backrest may not have proper back support. This causes a hollow between the backrest and your lumbar region when in it’s reclined position. When this happens, your body will naturally sink into the hollow, giving you a backache. If this sounds familiar, place a small cushion or a rolled-up towel between your lumbar and the backrest to fill the gap.

If you sleep in a recliner for long periods, you may end up with knee or hip contractures. Your muscles contract over the joints and partially restricts your mobility. This can lead to a fall and possible injuries if you let it continue.

RELATED: Tips on how to prevent falls

Is a recliner bad for your neck?

During the day when we are awake, gravity pulls down on our heads and squashes the pads between the vertebrae in our necks.  Lying in our bed relieves this pressure but many people still need to have their head slightly elevated to open up the airways to help with breathing.

Using a recliner offers a compromise to the two extremes. Our head is supported on a pillow but at the same time, it isn’t flat. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea find that having their head elevated helps with breathing.

Most models of recliners don’t have a fully horizontal position. Instead, the neck rest, backrest, thigh rest and lower leg sections form optimal angles at the shoulders, hips, and knees to give you a very comfortable resting position.

Can recliners cause leg problems?

If you use a recliner all the time, the answer to this question is “Yes”.

When you sit for a long time in the same position, you are no longer using your leg muscles and this can cause swelling in the legs. If this happens regularly, blood stays in the small leg veins and they become distended. Over time this makes the legs swell, the skin appears bruised and open sores appear which leave us open to all kinds of infection. These open sores are called ‘Stasis Ulcers’.

Likewise, sitting in a position for a long time causes blood clotting in the legs, which may be lethal or cause a stroke if they break off and reach the heart or brain.

However, recliners aren’t all bad. If they can achieve the Trendelenburg Position, it places your legs slightly higher than your heart. This allows the blood to naturally flow back to the heart with very little effort.

You can also remedy this problematic situation by now and again standing up and walking around for a few minutes. This exercise will increase the blood circulation and reduce the formation of blood clots.

RELATED: Low impact exercises for seniors

Is sitting in a recliner bad for circulation?

You should read this section along with the previous one about causing leg problems.

If you stay in the same position for many hours, the fluid in your body will tend to accumulate at the lowest possible point. Sleeping in a recliner doesn’t let you turn naturally as you would in a bed.

These result in a reduction in blood flow and the problems that come hand-in-hand with this. You need to exercise to relieve this situation and get your blood circulation back to normal.

RELATED: How to improve leg circulation

We mentioned previously about recliners that can achieve the Trendelenburg Position when the legs and feet are above the heart. And this is exactly what you need to alleviate the problems associated with reduced blood flow and bad circulation.

What are the benefits of using a recliner chair?

There are many benefits to using a reclining chair. Some we have already covered, but it would be a good idea to list them all:

Stress reduction

Think about it. When we want to relax, we automatically try to lean backwards. It allows our muscles to stop supporting our bodies for a while, which in turn reduces the strain on neck, and back, reducing tension headaches and migraines.

Relief from pain

Muscle strain, caused by a tense back, neck, and shoulders, is probably one of the most common reasons for everyday pain. Recliners allow the muscles to relax by supporting the body in a  natural position. The muscles relax and the pain stops.

Improved circulation

Sitting or standing for long periods causes your body’s fluids to accumulate in your legs and feet. This clogs up the veins and increases swelling in the lower half of the body. Exercise isn’t the only thing that can reduce these bad effects. Raising your legs and feet above your heart with a recliner will help direct the blood flow away from the feet.

Aching joints

Arthritis causes many aches and pains throughout the body, especially if you are a senior. Recliners, help with this condition by correcting the angles between the joints and relaxing the muscles.

Assisting movement

Many seniors, as they get older, find they have a problem when getting in and out of chairs. They find it difficult to stand from a sitting position and sit from a standing position. Recliners, in general, help the seniors get over this situation. Furthermore,  some recliners go all the way and can lift a person into a standing position.

Automatic massagers

Some recliners incorporate vibrating massagers and heated seat pads to help with muscle aches and pains and can provide the necessary muscle stimulation if the user has mobility problems.

What’s next?

How often Should seniors lift Weights?

Seniors older than 65 years should try to get at least 2 hours 30 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This works out to be about half an hour on most days in a week. But, how many times a week should seniors lift weights? You should make weight training on at least two days a week. Try other strength exercises and don’t forget to work on your balance and flexibility every day as well.

You wouldn’t expect a seventy-five years old grandma to run a marathon, but believe it or not many do. This isn’t to say that you should. After all, not everyone wants to. But, we’re saying that it’s possible to exercise as effectively when you’re a senior, as when you’re in your twenties. You must remember that everyone should exercise according to their limits.

But, what strength exercises should we do?

Should seniors lift weights?

There are many good exercises we can do. Swimming, walking, cycling and yoga are good gentle exercises that tone our bodies, but what if we’re unable to do these types of whole-body exercise?

Weight lifting is an appropriate exercise for any age, but especially for those who have mobility problems. You can safely lift weights while sitting in your favorite chair as well as standing on your legs.

RELATED: Guide to improve mobility

You’re only required to keep it simple and keep it gentle. Once you’ve built up some muscle mass it’s then okay to move on to heavier weights. Oh! And by the way, speak to your doctor first in case you have an undiagnosed health problem that might need monitoring while you exercise.

Should seniors lift heavyweights?

Not at first.

Start with light weights. You aren’t doing this as a punishment. It’s meant to be fun. As such, only lift what your body is capable of doing.

Exercise is all about getting the blood flowing around the body, making the heart pump a little bit harder than usual, and building muscle mass. But don’t overdo it!

RELATED: Guide to strengthen leg muscles

At what age should you stop lifting heavyweights?

As long as you are healthy and your doctor has agreed, you can continue to lift weights at any age. However, many seniors, as they get older, suffer from high blood pressure. Lifting heavy weights temporarily increases blood pressure. So, if you suffer from this problem, it might be better to try another resistance training method rather than heavy lifting.

If you are able, weight training helps with breathing, increases stamina, builds muscle mass and helps with balance. So, as long as it’s safe to do so, continue weight training for as long as you can.

Other weightlifting Tips for seniors:

First, see your doctor before starting on any weight training program. Next, start with light weights. You can do this at home using canned food. Don’t forget to ‘warm-up’ before your session and ‘cool down’ afterward. Only do as much as you feel comfortable with. If you become sore or a joint is painful to the touch, stop exercising until it gets better. If the pain continues, seek medical advice. Finally, enjoy the exercise and have fun!

Talk to your doctor first

Always talk to your doctor or a qualified physiotherapist before attempting any type of exercise program. You may have a medical condition that will cause problems. So, follow professional advice every time.

Always warm-Up and Cool down

It might be the most boring part of an exercise session, but warming up is vitally important. Weight training puts a lot of strain on your body. You have to adjust your body so it’ll accept the extra demands. Stretch the main muscles in your body and get rid of any aches and pains before you start. Your warm-up period should be between 5 and 10 minutes.

Likewise, after your exercises, allow your body to return to normal. Stretch your muscles just like you did in the ‘warm-up’.  Doing these before and after any exercise session will help prevent cramps, reduce the likelihood of being sore the following day, and will help reduce injuries in general.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to what your body tells you about the exercises. Yes, it’s normal to be a bit sore afterwards, but if you wake up the next day and can hardly walk, then you’ve overdone it. Also, exercise should never make you feel dizzy or light-headed. If any joint is red, swollen or painful to the touch then miss your exercise for that day. If any of these problems continue, seek medical advice.

Start small

If you haven’t done much exercise for a while, start small and slowly work your way up. Dancing or walking is a good way to start and can be fun too. These exercises help to prepare your body for the hard work of a weight training routine. They also help maintain bone density and muscle mass. Once you’ve built yourself up using low resistance, weight-bearing exercises like these, you can then move on to weight training.

Stick with Light weights

You’re not twenty years old anymore, so don’t act like it. You don’t have to use heavy weights to exercise. As long as your body experiences a little bit of resistance, you’re doing some good. If you use heavy weights in your routine, you risk injury to your muscles and joints.

Don’t go out and buy expensive dumbells and other equipment at first. Until you know that weight lifting is for you, use common items you can find around the house. Canned food is a good way to start. No, don’t eat it yet! Hold a can in each hand and do simple lifts. As you increase your weights, you can load shopping bags with two or more cans and use those. Canned food has its weight printed on the label so you’ll know exactly how much your lifting.

Don’t be ashamed to stay with the light weights. They’ll be doing your body good, even if you’re not keeping up with the youngsters.

What’s next?

You need to exercise regularly otherwise you’ve wasted the effort, but don’t overdo it. You should do some aerobic exercise every day (or as often as recommended) because this helps to increase endurance.

If you can, it’s best to incorporate weight training into a program of mixed aerobic exercises. But, if you can’t, then just stick with the weights. Check other useful exercises for seniors.

Running Tips for Seniors

In order to start running at 50 or 60 you need to prepare your body for the increased activity, before you start running you should warm-up. You should incorporate periods of walking into your run, don’t overdo it at first.

To decrease the chance of injury only use proper and reliable equipment. After running do stretching exercises to avoid cramps. One of the most important running tips is to rest enough, so if you just started, run only two or three times a week.

Before starting any type of exercise program, speak to your doctor to see if your body can adapt to the increased stress. If you’ve been fairly active by walking or gardening, then running shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system. But, check with the doctor first, just in case you have an unnoticed heart problem that needs treatment.

After checking that the added exercise won’t do any harm, find a gentle running program to start on. There are plenty of these online to choose from, or maybe your doctor can suggest something.

Furthermore, if one doesn’t suit you exactly, it’s no problem to change it slightly until it does. Of course, if you want, you can just start running until your body can take no more. But, this is the best way to put you at risk of serious injury.

Always take it easy to start with, and become more strenuous as your body becomes used to it.

How to Start Running at 50 and Beyond:

Preparation

It doesn’t matter how eager you are to start running, you must prepare your body for the increased exercise. Every day for a week beforehand, pick at least a 10-minute slot and do some basic exercises to allow your body to get used to the exertion.

  • Running on the spot
  • Step on and off the bottom tread of your stairs
  • Stand for two minutes on one leg, then repeat on the other leg (hold onto something if you find this difficult)
  • Windmill your arms

These will ensure your body becomes accustomed to the increased effort and balance requirements that running needs.

Use Good Equipment

Many older people believe they can use the type of equipment they used in school, back in the day. Don’t even think about it. There’s a good reason why running shoes have improved in design over the years. There’s now a greater awareness of sports physics and sports injuries.

RELATED: Best running shoes for seniors.

Modern equipment is designed to reduce the damage to knees and ankles caused by running on asphalt or concrete. Understand, seniors have had a lifetime of knee impacts and probably need better running shoes than those who are younger.

Consult a recognized sports equipment manufacturer or retailer for advice on which shoe types are best for you. Furthermore, you can speak to a sports physiotherapist or another sports professional who should also know the best type of equipment to use.

It’s not only footwear that needs thinking about. Wear loose clothes, and allow your body to breathe and naturally cool itself. However, keep your joints warm and don’t expose them to excessive temperature changes. After your run, wrap up well with a tracksuit, sweater or hoodie to conserve body heat until your metabolism has slowed down to normal levels.

Warm-up

This is probably one of the more annoying parts of your exercise regime. You just want to get running and fill your lungs with the crisp fresh air, don’t you? However, if you try that without a sufficient warm-up you’ll damage muscle tissue, especially if you’re an older person.

Take your time to stretch all the muscles involved. Your legs, hips, back, arms and neck muscles all take part, one way or another, and you must allow them to gently stretch and get used to the movement.

Jump up and down on the spot for a couple of minutes, followed by lifting each knee as high as it will go. Flex your shoulders and neck and if you can bend from the waist a few times. Finish off with gentle on-the-spot running until you feel in need of a rest. Have a short break to catch your breath and start running properly, slowly building up the speed until you find a comfortable level.

Build Up Gradually and Know your Limits

Don’t try to do too much at first. If you can run for ten minutes then that’s great, but don’t feel guilty or a failure if you can’t manage more. Stay with it and eventually, your body will be happy to run for longer. If you try to overdo it too soon, you’ll increase the chance of injury, which will put you out of action for a long time.

If you find it difficult to run, try walking, so incorporate periods of walking into your run to give yourself some recovery time. Exercise is meant to be fun, so know how far you can push yourself. It seems silly to push yourself so hard that you end up in bed for the next couple of days.

Re-Evaluate Your Goals

After you have completed your first run, you’ll probably find that you set your goals too high. Don’t worry, go back and change your targets to something a bit more manageable. Once again, exercise is meant to be fun so don’t make it hard work. Keep a diary of the distance you’ve run and how long it takes. Make notes on how you can try to improve the program.

Rest

Giving your body sufficient rest time is probably one of the most important parts of any exercise regime. Don’t try to run every day, especially if you’re new to running and exercise. Just do it two or three times a week and you’ll soon feel stronger and fitter and you’ll feel the benefit afterward.

Sometimes, especially as you get older, your body needs some rest time to repair any damage that might have happened during your last run. Try some Tai Chi, yoga, cycle or gently swim on those days when you don’t run. These are wonderful no-impact exercises that won’t put too much stress on the muscles and joints.

RELATED: Low impact exercises for seniors

Resting includes having enough sleep. Make sure you have 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night to maintain a healthy body and improve your energy levels. Furthermore, if you have trouble getting to sleep, try listening to some soft and gentle music or reading a book for ten minutes before turning out the light.

After the Run

During a brisk run, your body becomes accustomed to the added exertion and increases its metabolism so it has to slow down gradually afterward. When you reach your destination, do some gentle jumps, stretches and on-the-spot running.

Failure to do this may result in cramps that can be very painful and at the very least, muscle soreness. Continue with these run-down exercises until your heart rate returns to normal.

Improve Your Diet

If you intend to exercise, you’ll need to supply your body with the correct type of fuel. You should eat lots of fiber and carbohydrates, but don’t forget that your body needs protein to increase muscle mass.

The best carbs to incorporate in your diet include oats, brown rice, sweet potato, and whole-grain bread. These will also give you plenty of fiber too. Cut down on carbs like white potatoes, white flour and bread, and white rice.

Fruits and veggies are very important as they provide the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body.

Reduce the amount of dairy and red meat, but remember you’ll have to replace the proteins, fats, calcium, and iron using other foods or supplements. Eat plenty of oily fish and white meat to give yourself protein and omega-3 and don’t be afraid to include eggs and healthy fats in your diet. Avocados, nuts, peanut butter and seeds will give you plenty of fats and oils.

Probably, one of the items that you’ll forget is to increase your water intake. Not only will it flush toxins out of your body, but it will also replace the liquids lost through perspiration.

What’s next?

One last piece of advice. If you smoke, consider giving up tobacco, you’ll find you breathe a lot easier when running. I am sure that this article has provided some great advice for you to start running. If you prefer walking here are some tips to improve your walk.