elderly people exercising in ways adapted for their abilities

Definition and Purpose of Exercise

Exercise is planned and repeated physical activity. It’s used to condition any part of the body. It improves health, maintains fitness and promotes good health and physical wellbeing. It can also be useful in preventing or treating a variety of diseases.


Sedentary Lifestyle and Lack of Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle——a.k.a. the couch disease——is a big factor in the onset of chronic degenerative diseases and though people of all age groups can become couch potatoes, the elderly are easy prey for this condition. Numerous studies have shown a calculated risk for cardiovascular disease due to inactivity. The benefits of exercising regularly are countless, but unfortunately, our elder population fails to enjoy their lives due to poor health and lack of energy.


Immune System Suffers from Lack of Exercise

It’s a proven fact that with age, there is a decrease in the immune system. The health of a parent or elderly loved one may often take a back seat to our own desire to remain fit. The risk of developing chronic disease and increased mortality rates increase with age and body functions are slowing down due to the loss of organ reserve. Exercising regularly can boost your immune system and help fight off any form of illness.


senior on a fitness ball with a personal trainerWhy is Exercise Important to the Elderly?

Exercise significant reduces the physical signs of again, but is important for other benefits as well.

  • Exercise is great for reducing stress and improving the emotional well being of the elderly.
  • Because exercise can be considered a social activity, seeing old friends and making new acquaintances can give this population a great emotional boost, thus aiding the release of stress and depression.
  • By exercising regularly, our loved ones body functions improve, reducing the risk of diabetes and other diseases.
  • Regular exercise during late adulthood, has shown to have profound effects on the body. The National Institutes of Health has claimed exercising on a regular basis greatly decreases the risk of suffering the disabilities resulting from chronic illnesses.
  • Exercise improves mobility, endurance and flexibility as well as balance, which in the long run helps reduce the frequency of falling and lessening the symptoms of arthritis.
  • Exercising can provide our seniors with longer lasting and more refreshing sleep which in turn improves their overall health. It also helps them fall asleep faster.


Types of Exercises That Best Suit Seniors

There are four main types of exercise, according to the National Institute on Aging:

  • Strengthening Exercise is necessary for muscle strengthening and helps reduce muscle loss.
  • Endurance Exercise helps maintain joint function. Included in this group are swimming and walking which help improve heart health as well.
  • Balance Exercise helps with the normally occurring of loss of balance, so practicing them can help reduce the frequency of falls.
  • Stretching Exercise is necessary to keep the lumbar region healthy and flexible…and easy stretches feel good.


Tips To Get the Elderly Moving

Most commercials for exercise programs or machines caution you to “Consult your doctor before taking on any new exercise routine.” This warning is especially important when it comes to seniors. Get their physical examination done and let the doctor know you’d like your loved one to get permission from him/her in this regard. Regularly practice only the exercises the doctor has approved. Because exercise has a lot to do with ensuring a senior’s good health, use the following tips to get them to work out regularly.

  • Start slowly. Trying out long edurance or heavy exercises as they begin is not a good idea. It’s always advisable to build up gradually.
  • Set short-term goals. This is one of the best strategies to keep your loved one motivated. By setting these goals, seniors are motivated to continue their exercise. Make sure you do not include weight loss in these short-term goals. More important goals could be stress reduction, and energy and mood improvement.
  • Take special notice of their symptoms. In many cases, the body may not be able to cope with certain types of exercise. Shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, pain and cold sweats may make it necessary to stop the exercise at once and consult a doctor.


Rest During Exercise

It’s always important to rest between workouts, and especially so with seniors. The body needs time to rest and heal itself. Without proper rest, you risk causing injuries. Don’t push too hard…remember…take it slow.

A good, general exercise routine can be achieved in as little as thirty minutes a day. If that’s too hard for your loved one, start with even less time and build up a little each day. Daily exercise can help prolong life and improve and improve your loved one’s quality of life.

Written by Tena Scallan
Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner and published with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry. She’s dedicated her life to working in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers. Tena firmly believes that both home and lifestyle can be preserved with in-home, compassionate caregiving in the face of aging or illness.

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  1. One effective way to help seniors realize the importance of exercise is to ask the doctor prescribe an exercise program. Research is showing that exercise is just as important as medication in helping with serious health conditions like heart disease, as this article points out, so considering it to be something the doctor ordered can help seniors make it a priority: https://www.harmonyhomehealth.com/exercise-best-medicine-for-seniors/


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