Keeping ourselves fit is important at any age, and it is arguably even more important in our senior years. The intensity of exercising may lessen, but the need for mature age exercise is vital to maintain flexibility, strength and sound mental health.
Being active helps seniors maintain their ability to function well. It’s important for everyone to note that by keeping active throughout your life you avoid preventable disability in your final years.
Reduce the risk of falls
Exercise keeps your proprioceptive skills in check, which keep balance and coordination in good form. Secondly, exercising strengthens the muscles, enhancing the ability to keep yourself upright and mobile without collapsing.
Increases bone density and limits osteoporosis
Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and brittle. By exercising, you increase bone strength. Optimal exercises to prevent osteoporosis are weight-bearing exercises such as walking, and resistance exercises such as lifting weights.
Regular exercise enhances the metabolism, enabling seniors to keep their weight in a good weight range. This happens in a number ways: any strength training increases your muscle mass, which requires the body to work harder, lifting the metabolism. Therefore, the body will burn more calories even at rest.
Regular exercise keeps you flexible
Any exercise will help joint mobility, as well as maintaining muscle length. When the elderly are kept sedentary, the joints are likely to stiffen up, along with the muscles shortening and weakening. This becomes a vicious cycle as soon even the most basic movements become difficult due to a limited range of movement.
Improved mental health
There have been many studies showing that regular exercise makes people feel happier and more relaxed, along with decreasing the chance of depression. Exercise can also lift your self-esteem, making you feel stronger, more powerful, fitter and more in control of your body in your daily life. These things are of particular importance in the elderly.
Exercise keeps you social
We are social beings, and if the choice of exercise involves a group activity, it is a wonderful way to connect with others and enjoy a sense of community and belonging.
What type of exercise is best for seniors?
For a well-rounded exercise routine for seniors, it’s important to make sure that all of the following four components are covered in an exercise routine for seniors:
This is important to prevent falls which can lead to distressing or even devastating injuries in the elderly. Simple tasks such as balancing on one foot and then the other, slowly increasing the length of time are a good way of improving balance. Once this gets easy, you can increase the level of difficulty by moving the arms or even changing eye movements.
This is important to boost heart rate and breathing, helping to condition the lungs, heart and circulation. Endurance exercise will also help delay or prevent some diseases. Good examples of such exercises are stationary cycling, gentle swimming, dancing, or water aerobics.
3. Strength training
This can be anything from gentle weight training or simple bodyweight exercises where you use the body as resistance. A classic example is the push-up but for elderly seniors, simple tasks such as sitting and standing from a bench, stepping up onto a small platform, lifting small sandbags or weights all help with keeping up strength.
Any flexibility exercises are wonderful for keeping a good range of motion in all joints. This helps prevent spinal injuries, as well as muscle imbalances. The more the range of movement decreases, the less physically capable the individual becomes. Tai Chi, gentle yoga, or pre-Pilates are all good ways for seniors to keep up their mobility.
Sage Institute of Aged Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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