The benefits of exercise have been well documented across medical journals, website blogs, gym pamphlets, and countless articles on the topic. But you will often notice that, accompanying these journal articles, blogs and pamphlets, are pictures of young people. It can give the erroneous impression that staying active and fit is solely a young person’s concern. This impression can’t be farther from the truth.
There are many reasons why Seniors tend to slow down in their activity, including health issues, balance and ambulation concerns. These are legitimate issues, which is why Integracare recommends the services of an expert physiotherapist, especially for those recovering from an injury, a surgery or a stroke.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of staying active for Seniors, as well as a few low impact exercises and guided stretching exercises.
Why Stay Active?
In order to stay mobile, sharp, self-confident and independent, staying active should be a crucial part of your, or your loved one’s routine.
Here are a few reasons Seniors should stay active:
To Improve Strength
Seniors who remain active often report feeling stronger, able to walk and perform household tasks with relative ease. This is because staying active improves muscular endurance and stamina, as well as reducing the risk of age-related bone loss. Improving strength also has the resultant benefit, therefore, of promoting independence. With an improvement in strength often comes a willingness to take on more personal tasks.
To Improve Balance and Mobility
A very present fear for many Seniors is the risk of falling. Falling can have a negative impact on a Senior’s life: it might cause a debilitating injury, limit their ability to remain active and social, or make it harder to remain independent. It is, therefore, beneficial for Seniors to try activities that promote balance. With better balance can also come greater mobility.
To Stay Mentally Sharp
We all know that exercise promotes blood flow, but what you may not know is that better blood flow can have a profound effect on brain function. Take this article from Harvard Medical School, which synthesizes research about exercise’s positive effects on memory and decision making. The article also states that exercise can help reduce anxiety, help promote a better night’s sleep and put you in a better mood. If your loved one wishes to remain mentally sharp as they age, regular exercise is a good idea.
To Boost Self-Confidence
As mentioned, staying active can help promote independence and mobility, both key components of self-confidence for Seniors. Confidence is a significant factor in overall happiness and wellbeing, not just for Seniors, but for everyone. The more we trust in our own abilities and capabilities, the better we feel. To that end, exercise really does holistically benefit Seniors, enhancing their overall quality of life.
As a Social Activity
One of the wonderful aspects of exercise is that it can be communal. Whether exercising in a class or with a physiotherapist, exercise can provide Seniors the opportunity to socially engage with others. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be hard on Seniors, but being physically active offers a great opportunity to socialize with others.
Low Impact Exercises for Seniors
Don’t think that Seniors are confined to a just a few types of exercise – there are many ways for Seniors to stay active both inside and outside, which involve socializing and fun. As we age, however, it is important to steer clear of exercises that put undue stress on our joints and bones. Exercises like jumping rope or running can be hard on joints, especially the knees. Instead, choose from the wide variety of low impact exercises available, of which the following are just a few:
Join a water aerobics class, or swim laps at the local pool. Both are great ways of increasing cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility. Not only that, but they can be fun ways of meeting like-minded people. And who doesn’t love splashing around in the water! Also, because your joints experience basically no shock whilst in the water, swimming and water aerobics is very low impact.
Whereas running can be hard on the knees, walking is relatively gentle. It is a great way of getting in some light cardio, and finding a bit of fresh air while you’re at it. Another great thing about walking, as opposed to other exercises, is that it can be a functional part of your day; you can walk to the store to get groceries, or to the pharmacy, and fulfil your daily activity. For more of a social element, you can call a friend or an Integracare Caregiver to share the walk with you.
Golf is fun, social, engaging, and it involves a lot of walking. If you aren’t a golfer already, fear not; there are classes on offer through most golf courses, many of them tailored specifically to Seniors. Speak with your doctor first, and get tips from a physiotherapist about stretching beforehand.
Guided Stretching Exercises
To improve flexibility, and to aid in the healing process, try guided stretching exercises with a physiotherapist. Neck stretches, knee lifts and shoulder rolls are just a few of the basic stretches you can do with one of our registered physiotherapists, who are expertly trained in helping Seniors improve their strength, balance and self-confidence. If you or a loved one is recovering from an injury or surgery, or simply wants a safe, effective way to improve health, contact Integracare about our home health care services.
There are many different types of yoga, but they all share a few common benefits: they increase balance, flexibility and mobility. To start, choose a beginner level yoga, one with less emphasis on strength training. Restorative Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and Kundalini Yoga are all good types to start with.
Feel young, get active and have a joyous time. Dancing is one of the most fun ways of staying active, and it can be a terrific way to meet people. Whether you join a tango class, drop in for a one-time dance at a community centre, or simply crank up the radio at home and move around, dancing is wonderful for cardiovascular health and stability.
In conclusion, there are as many reasons for staying active as there are ways to go about it. Activity doesn’t need to be a hassle, nor does it need to be undertaken in solitude; Seniors can stay active whilst having fun and being social.
At Integracare, we understand that making the decision to seek out home health care can be a difficult one, so feel free to visit our website or contact us by phone or email to discuss how we can help. To help you, or the beloved Senior in your life, get active in a safe manner, with a compassionate and expert Caregiver or physiotherapist, contact Integracare today.