Everyone’s aging journey is unique. Sometimes things happen to affect our health that are outside of our control. Across the board however, the best decision a person can make to preserve and promote good health is to exercise regularly. Keeping our bodies in motion is absolutely essential in maintaining strength, balance, and daily function. Physical activity is also tied to brain function and has the ability to help you sleep better, and may even slow the progression of cognitive decline such as dementia. For the elderly population, keeping active not only promotes health, but also helps to maintain independence. Even frail seniors can improve their health with moderate activity.
With such obvious benefits to exercising, why wouldn’t every aging adult be exercising daily? It is important to consider the obstacles. Fatigue can be an issue, and without proper nutrition, hydration, and health screenings, an elderly person may just feel too tired to find the motivation to get going or consistently challenge their bodies. Some seniors may feel great but don’t know where to start. The idea of researching a program, creating a home exercise program, or meeting with new people may feel overwhelming. Other barriers include transportation, cost of gym memberships, or a health concern that requires some creativity to safely exercise. Talking to a Primary Care Physician about these barriers can lead to a healthy discussion about realistic and exciting opportunities available to specifically assist the aging adult. Your PCP may refer you to a Physical Therapist to address specific goals and/or to a senior exercise group in your community. There are lots of possibilities, and starting slow to pick the right program can make all the difference.
Four types of exercise should be considered when a senior is planning their exercise program and goals. They are: endurance/aerobic activities to increase the health of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system, strength exercises to build muscle and prevent bone loss, balance exercises to reduce risk of falls, and activities that focus on flexibility for range of motion. The best programs will address all four areas. Only 30 minutes a day could change your or your loved one’s life! If you are interested in more information or in finding specific resources for yourself or someone you know, please contact your local Aging Life Care Expert – our Care Managers are on standby and available to help!