Advancing age comes with its own slew of challenges. A few of these are more noticeable than physical fitness. For many, getting older means far less time spent being active, which in itself can contribute drastically to the aging process. Maintaining body performance is important for the health of those both young and old. This means that – contrary to being something which you can neglect in your old age – maintaining fitness gets more important as you age. But how can staying active benefit the elderly?
Staying active is good for you and it helps you to feel and look great throughout your life. Living an active lifestyle is especially important for the elderly because it can improve their health and help prevent heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and it can reduce the effects of arthritis.
Staying active improves strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance which will help you stay healthier longer. Senior citizens should always consult their doctors before taking on any new exercise regimes.
Importance of exercise for the elderly
Staying active as you get older will provide you with a number of advantages if you approach it correctly and carefully. These benefits include a lowered risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, depression and dementia. Exercise also helps to combat joint and muscle stiffness or pain. It keeps you moving actively and confidently as your years wear on.
Regular exercise has not only been proven to extend people’s lifespans but it will also greatly improve the quality of life in the elderly. Marlo Sollitto lists some of the benefits that exercise can have for the elderly:
“Immune Function. A healthy, strong body fights off infection and sickness more easily and more quickly. Rather than sapping energy reserves entirely, recovery from an illness will take less of a toll on the body if the person exercises regularly.
Cardio-Respiratory and Cardiovascular Function. Frequent physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. If the elderly person has hypertension, exercise will help lower their blood pressure.
Bone Density and Risk of Osteoporosis. Exercise protects against loss in bone mass. Better bone density will reduce the risk of osteoporosis, lower the risk of falling and prevent broken bones. Post-menopausal women can lose as much as 2% bone mass each year, and men also lose bone mass as they age. Research done at Tufts University shows that strength training can dramatically reduce this loss, help restore bones, and contribute to better balance and less fractures.
Gastrointestinal Function. Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and promotes the efficient elimination of waste and encourages digestive health.
Chronic Conditions and Cancer. Physical activity lowers risk of serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer, to name a few. It also helps in the management of high cholesterol and arthritis pain.”
Below are a few exercises that are great for elderly people
So, with that in mind, jumping into rigorous exercise routines may do more damage to the elderly than good. So what types of exercises promote better health without putting too much strain on the body?
If there was one function that the human body has been designed perfectly for, it’s near-endless walking. That’s why our ancestors did so well traversing continents on foot. Because of this, moderate walking is a great exercise for people of all ages. If you are fairly new to exercise, then fast-paced but shorter walks will do you wonders. It will give you the opportunity to build up your distance, speed, and enjoyment of the exercise slowly.
Whether you are doing a few lengths in the pool or are taking part in water aerobics, swimming pools offer one of the best low-impact environments to work out in. In the case of the elderly, low-impact exercises will help keep their joints, muscles, and bones protected while still building strength and stamina. Pool exercises can range from moderately challenging to downright excruciating so be sure to be aware of your limitations and build your routines carefully.
Yoga, Thai Chi, or Pilates
Restorative exercises such as Yoga, Thai Chi, and Pilates provide exercises that encourage flexibility and core strength which helps with balance, bone density and manoeuvrability. Besides this, breathing techniques commonly used by these disciplines also foster better blood flow and lung capacity, contributing to better overall health and quality of life.
Aerobic activity will assist elderly folks to lose weight as their metabolisms aren’t as fast as they used to be. It will also increase their energy levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve heart strength and health, and maintain joint movement.
Building endurance in elderly citizens may take some time depending on their health and activity level. They can start by doing 5-minute cardio sessions a few times a week to get their heart rate up.
After this, 30 minutes of cardio exercise most days will work wonders. Brisk walks, tennis, and swimming are great moderate endurance exercises for seniors.
Building muscle takes time but the benefits will outweigh the costs. Exercise good form for muscle-building to be effective.
Start with a few low-impact exercises such as squatting in front of a chair. Ensure that it won’t tip over or move around.
Keep your arms out in front of you and bend your knees into an almost sitting position. Be sure not to extend your knees past your toes. Hold this position for a few seconds and raise yourself back up to a standing position and repeat this 10 times for two sets.
Upper body strength
Some form of resistance is necessary to develop muscle mass – light weights or resistance bands are the most common. You can even do this exercise while sitting. Sit on the floor with your legs flat out in front of you and your back straight.
Lift the weights out in front of you and over your head. You could also stand while doing it and raise your arms sideways or forwards.
Training elderly clients can be very rewarding as your training with them produces tangible benefits. Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Exercise for the Elderly Course will teach you everything that you need to know in order to become the best personal trainer – for the elderly – out there!