Home Health Care and Safe Exercise
by Matt Clinnard
One of the best exercises a senior can partake in is frequent walking. While this exercise is quite safe, inexpensive, and easy to perform, many seniors would like to do more. Others may be looking for something that can be done year-round while avoiding scorching heat, high winds, or dreary downfalls. As a result, many seniors are turning to video-based exercise programs, yoga, Tai Chi, and even home-based weight training. Each of these is an excellent option, but in order to lead to long-term productivity and positive gains, all exercise programs must be performed with a focus on safety.
Let's look at four important components of safe exercise:
1. Talk to your doctor. While it sounds like typical boilerplate, talking to your doctor before starting an exercise program is more than just legal mumbo jumbo or the overprotective nagging of a loved one. Many diseases and ailments common among seniors are treated with relatively sensitive medications. These include heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, and several autoimmune disorders. The effectiveness of these medications may be altered by changes in an individual's metabolic rate, diet, and weight. Each of these factors is impacted by exercise. Further, if exercise ends up producing additional aches or pains, it is important that the doctor is able to consider the exercise regimen in addition to any already established ailments, especially when chest pain, shortness of breath, or changes in body function are involved. A home health care provider can be a great resource when it comes to scheduling doctor's appointments. Home health care can also provide the transportation needed to get back and forth to the appointments.
2. Start slowly. Muscles and joints need to be given time to adjust to a new exercise program. Start off slowly with light weights, short time frames, and frequent rest periods. Gradually increase each over a period of days, weeks, and even months. If a break is taken for more than a week or so, back off of the levels again and work your way back up. Remember, it is a lot easier, faster, and less painful to slowly work up to a fitness level than it is to recover from an injury.
3. Stretch properly. Contrary to what was taught in gym classes for decades, it is never a good idea to start off an exercise session by stretching. Stretching cold muscles and bending cold joints is a surefire way to increase pain and risk of injury. Instead, start by walking, jogging in place, doing chair squats, or some other form of exercise that will warm up the muscles you will be using. After about 10 minutes, or when a light sweat has broken, then proceed to stretching.
4. Hydrate. The body is mainly comprised of water, but a senior's water balance decreases with age. When exercise is added to the mix, a senior can easily become dehydrated. This is not only bad in its own right, but it makes it hard for the body to repair itself and become stronger. Eight, 8-ounce glasses of water is the standard every day. This should be increased when exercising.
In short, there are many different exercise programs for seniors. The most important part of exercise is choosing something that is enjoyable so it can be performed regularly over the long-term. Once an exercise form is chosen, be sure to partake safely. Best of all, a Comfort Keepers home health care provider can be there to provide any needed physical, emotional, or social support. If you would like more information about our services contact us today to talk to our specialists.