What are the risks associated with exercise for the elderly?

The risk of a cardiac emergency is heightened considerably when a person is actually exercising. Some physicians have argued that older people who intend to exercise should undergo exhaustive preliminary screening, which includes an exercise electrocardiogram. This course of action may be desirable if the elderly person intends to embark on a very strenuous competitive training schedule but it is unwanted if an older individual simply wishes to make a small increase in their regular daily physical activity.

The person who begins an exercise programme is at a lower overall risk of sudden death as opposed to a sedentary peer. Perhaps owing to a less ambitious attitude toward exercise, the relative risks of physical activity (deaths during exercise versus deaths when sedentary) decrease as opposed to increasing as a person becomes older.

Certain precautions can enhance the safety of exercise for the older individual. The suggested amount of exercise should do no more than leave the participant pleasantly tired the next day. Recovery processes should follow slowly and vigorous training should thus be done on alternate days. In people who have a pre-existing articular disease, walking should be substituted for jogging or running as fast walking offers a sufficient training stimulus with less risk of slipping and much smaller impact stress on the knees.

The benefits of weight-supported activities

Weight-supported activities, such as swimming as well as aquatics, are mainly helpful for those elderly adults who suffer from joint problems. Vision, hearing and balance are all poorer as opposed to in a younger person. Therefore, seniors should avoid sports where there is a risk of collision with opponents or, alternatively, stationary objects. If there is a past history of falls, special attention needs to be paid when pursuing activities which require a good sense of balance (whether climbing, skiing, cycling or just walking on a pool deck which is slippery).

In older people who are taking hypotensive medication, there is a danger of an abrupt loss of consciousness when standing at the completion of an exercise session. This is especially if the room is hot or if the person’s veins are relaxed as a result of being in a pool for a period of time. Environmental extremes are not tolerated well. If the weather is remarkably hot or cold physical activity should be done inside an air-conditioned facility.

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How to create a training programme for the elderly

To create quality training programmes for older adults you must understand more than just the physical aspects of ageing and physical activity. Evidence has suggested that beliefs, assumptions and expectations can contribute to illness as well as to healing. Thus a person’s perception of health can powerfully affect physical and psychological symptoms, health choices, behaviours and ultimately the outcomes.

Perceptions of oneself and perceptions of how one is viewed by others significantly includes one’s overall motivation to change. Expectations, attitudes and subjective norms, as well as perceived behavioural control all, affect perceptions of ageing and physical activity. These are intertwined with perceptions of oneself and offer insight into some of the motives and barriers to physical activity.

Older adults are advised to do 150 minutes of exercise per week. There are a number of ways that the elderly can accumulate this total per week:

  • The term ‘accumulation’ refers to meeting the goal of 150 minutes per week through performing activities in several shorter bouts of at least 10 minutes each which are spread throughout the week and then adding together the time spent during each of these bouts, for example, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five times per week.

These recommendations are relevant to all older adults regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or income level.

Contact Trifocus Fitness Academy

Want to learn more about becoming a personal trainer for the elderly? If you feel that this is something that you want to do then you need to do our Exercise and Elderly Course. For more information, please follow this link.

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