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February 25, 2014

Physical Activity for Senior Care

As the aging process begins to take place, a senior care plan can benefit from physical activity. Not only will it help the senior from a physical standpoint, but they will also see cognitive improvements.

Physically, the benefits associated with incorporating exercise in senior care can almost seem endless. Encouraging an elderly person to begin an exercise program can help to slow down the aging process and help them live a more vibrant and healthy life. Some of the health benefits include:

  • Delaying, or preventing, the onset of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer
  • Alleviating pain from arthritis and minimizing its severity
  • Decreasing the risk of falls

Each individual has different needs when it comes to exercise and varying health conditions that may need to be taken into consideration before beginning an exercise regimen. Always consult a health professional to determine the best approach to physical activity with senior care.

In general, a senior care exercise plan will incorporate a proper balance of aerobic activities, strength building exercises, a stretching routine and balancing exercise.

Aerobic exercise is anything that gets the heart rate up for an extended period of time. Incorporating aerobic activities will help to improve cardiovascular health, as well as to help maintain a healthy weight. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, water aerobics, and even dancing!

Strength building exercises will help to maintain healthy lean muscle in aging adults. Muscle and bone loss are both common in the aging process, so by incorporating appropriate weight-bearing exercises, the individual can help prevent this from happening. Osteoporosis is one condition that can greatly benefit from strength conditioning.

Stretching post exercise can help to reduce the risk of muscle tightness and muscle soreness. It is important to spend time stretching out the worked muscles after aerobic or strength exercises. Another benefit of a stretching routine is the improvement in flexibility that the individual will begin to see. An increase in flexibility with seniors can help them move around easier on a daily basis and help to reduce the risk of injury while completing daily tasks.

Balance exercises come into play when it comes to preventing falls. Falling is the most common cause of injury in adults over the age of 65. Incorporating balance activities into senior care, such as tai chi or yoga, can greatly reduce their injury risk.

In addition to the many physical and general health benefits of physical activity, the senior can also benefit in a cognitive way. Exercise promotes blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which in turn can greatly improve memory, the ability to learn new things and mental acuity. With a regular exercise program, the senior can prevent, delay or even reverse mental illnesses, especially symptoms of anxiety or depression.

It is never too late to adopt an active lifestyle.  Reducing the effects of age-related illness and improving overall well-being could be as easy as lacing up a pair of walking shoes.

Explore Our Quality of Life Guides for Seniors and Caregivers

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