Exercise is Important for Seniors
Home Care Resources, Scottsdale LIVING WELL Magazine
Exercise plays a significant part in maintaining health and physical fitness. Regular exercise can fight obesity and improve your heart and lungs. As you get older, it becomes especially important to be physically active in order to fight the ravages of aging. To maintain health and independence, exercise is still critical.
Simple coordination and stability exercises can help prevent falls among older adults. Standing on one foot, walking heel to toe and standing up from a sitting position without the use of your hands can all improve balance.
As you get older, you lose flexibility and elasticity in your skin and connective tissue. Your muscles tighten, and your joints lose range of motion. Flexibility of joints and muscles is an important factor in maintaining an independent lifestyle as aging occurs. According to Dr. Karl Knopf, author of Stretching for 50+, “When muscles are flexible, joints can align themselves in the bio-mechanical manner in which they were designed. This results in improvement in everything from our ability to move, our posture and just being able to breathe more completely.” To keep your body limber, Knopf recommends bouncing toe touches, shoulder rolls and stationary jumping jacks.
Exercises that increase your stamina support the health of your respiratory and circulatory systems. They help you accomplish your daily tasks––climbing stairs, lifting objects and housecleaning––as well as aiding in the prevention of such diseases as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease and stroke. Any activity that increases your heart rate––brisk walking, swimming, dancing ––can increase your stamina.
For older adults and seniors who want to stay healthy and independent, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend four types of exercises:
- Strength exercises build older adult muscles and increase your metabolism, which helps to keep your weight and blood sugar in check.
- Balance exercises build leg muscles, and this helps to prevent falls. According to the NIH, U.S. hospitals have 300,000 admissions for broken hips each year, many of them seniors, and falling is often the cause of those fractures.
If you are an older adult, balance exercises will help you avoid problems as you get older.
And, if you are a senior, balance exercises can help you stay independent by helping you avoid the disabilities that could result from falling.
- Stretching exercises can give you more freedom of movement, which will allow you to be more active during your senior years. Stretching exercises alone will not improve your endurance or strength.
- Endurance exercises are any activity—walking, jogging, swimming, biking, even raking leaves—that increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Build up your endurance gradually, starting with as little as five minutes of endurance activities at a time.
Keeping active is very important to health both physical health and mental health. Unfortunately with longevity a lot of people are left alone and need to put extra effort into socializing and keeping mentally positive.
Hiring outside help for a loved one may be a good alternative. A caregiver can simply be a companion there for socialization and small task reminders. As an example, the person being cared for can no longer drive safely and they need someone to drive them to doctor appointments, the grocery store and general shopping. The person may need encouragement and reminders to take medications, or when to get ready to go to social events like a senior exercise class at the local senior center.
At Home Care Resources, great care is taken in making a match between our caregivers and our clients. We consider our clients’ personalities, interests and level of care needed. We then look at the caregiver’s personality, training and experience to ensure compatibility on all levels.