Keep Moving! Exercise Improves Quality Of Life For Elderly People
Go for a swim. Plant a garden. Ride a bike. Take a walk. Learn a new dance step. Participate in an exercise class. Elderly people who do some or all of those things are making an important investment in their ability to remain healthy, vibrant and independent. In fact, research has shown that men and women aged 65 and older live 40% longer if they get some form of exercise.
The rapid growth of the elderly population has put a spotlight on the importance of exercise in order to reduce the possibility of disability and age associated diseases. Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity.
Obesity is a growing problem in our country and it can be devastating at any age. For elderly adults, being obese may complicate other health conditions and make a person weaker.
Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise. Research has suggested that doing 10,000 steps or more a day can improve blood pressure and weight. It’s easy to reach this goal using a reliable pedometer as a companion, and you do not need to get all the steps in one go. You can fit them into your daily routine.
Low volume, high-intensity resistance training can counter the decline in muscle strength and size commonly associated with aging. If you decide to embark on an exercise program, here are some things you can do to make sure you are exercising safely:
- Start slowly, especially if you haven’t been active for a long time. Little by little build up your activities and how hard you work at them.
- Don’t hold your breath during strength exercises. That could cause changes in your blood pressure. It may seem strange at first, but you should breathe out as you lift something, and breathe in as you relax.
- Use safety equipment. For example, wear a helmet for bike riding or the right shoes for walking or jogging.
- Unless your doctor has asked you to limit fluids, be sure to drink plenty when you are doing activities. Many older adults don’t feel thirsty even if their body needs fluids.
- Always bend forward from the hips, not the waist. If you keep your back straight, you’re probably bending the right way. If your back “humps,” that’s probably wrong.
Stiff joints and sore muscles can be a deterrent. When physical activity results in pain, it’s hard to motivate yourself to continue. Minor muscle aches are to be expected with a new routine, but sharp or severe pain is unnecessary and unhealthy. Stretching can help by preparing your body for activity.
Make time to warm up and stretch before you go for a fitness walk or engage in any other workout. Slowing stretching your muscles will increase your flexibility and help to prevent muscle strain. After exercising, be sure to cool down and stretch again. You’ll add only minutes to your routine, but you’ll prevent hours of stiffness!