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Exercise for the Elderly

Exercise for the Elderly

Posted on August 31, 2017 By Niall Fay

As we all know, exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. We are always told that a 20 minute walk a day does wonders for both our physical and mental health. That said, some people believe that as they age they should not exercise because their body becomes more and more fragile. It’s true, as we age, our bodies begin to get fragile. However, that does not mean we should stop exercising. This blog has been designed to explain the benefits of exercise for the elderly and will list a few exercises which everyone should do to improve their health. At Irish HomeCare, we love to receive feedback so do not hesitate to get in touch with your comments and suggestions. Email nfay@irishhomecare.ie or message our Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/irishhomecare/.

 

So, does old age mean we should not exercise? Not at all! In fact, almost all older people can benefit from exercise. Regular exercise contributes to preventing chronic illnesses, improving mental health and reduces the chances of physical injury (https://www.agingcare.com/articles/exercise-benefits-for-the-elderly-95383.htm). With regard what exercise can do for you, the effects are numerous. The following list shows just how important exercise is and how it effects your health:

 

Immune System – Regular exercise improves your immune system because your body is overall in better condition. Recovering from common colds, stomach bugs and the flu is quicker and the symptoms generally end up less severe.

 

Cardiovascular and Cardio-Respiratory Function – As you exercise, you gradually become fitter and fitter. This means your resting heart rate will lower, along with your blood pressure. Consequently, your breathing improves when you undertake any physical activity and of course, lower blood pressure is a positive, particularly if someone suffers from hypertension.

 

Bone Density – As we age, our bones begin to weaken and the risk of falling and breaking bones increases. In fact, studies have shown that post-menopausal women can lose up to 2% bone mass per year! To combat this, you must exercise. Strength training in particular helps with bone restoration and also reduces the risk of falling, as your bones and muscles become stronger and thicker.

 

Metabolism – As you know, your metabolism is the rate at which your body digests your food & drink. A good metabolism will break food and drink down quickly, absorb the nutrients and then flush out the waste. Exercise is one way of speeding up your metabolism so your body gets everything it needs and gets rid of everything it does not need.

 

Chronic Conditions – Studies have shown that exercise reduces the chances of contracting a chronic disease such as Dementia, Diabetes and Heart disease (https://www.agingcare.com/articles/exercise-benefits-for-the-elderly-95383.htm).

 

Having discussed some of the various health benefits that come from exercise, we need to look at what exercises are best for elderly people. Before providing a list of exercises, I want to explain that not all exercises require equipment or a gym membership, all of which are expensive. The following list is equipment-free and can be done in the comfort of your own home:

 

Lying Hip Bridges – This exercise focuses on your glutes (bum) and is good for people who spend a lot of time sitting down. It involves laying on the ground, face up, and raising your pelvis upwards. Repeat this movement 10 times.

 

Chair Squats – Squats focus on your glutes and your legs. They are very good for people of all ages as they strengthen your leg and bum muscles, which combats the risk of falling. Furthermore, it strengthens your core, helping you climb stairs and pick this up from the ground. To perform this exercise, grab a chair and stand with your feet hip-width apart. While keeping your chest straight, bend your knees and lower yourself onto the chair. Repeat this movement 10 times. 

 

Wall Push-ups – This exercise will improve your total upper body strength, while focusing mainly on your arms and shoulders. To perform it, stand roughly 2 feet away from a wall and place your hands on the wall at roughly shoulder height. Keeping your body straight, bend your arms and lean closer to the wall. Then push against the wall to return to your original starting position. Repeat this movement 10 times.

 

Deadbugs – No, this exercise does not involve hunting and killing insects. It’s a very handy exercise for strengthening your entire body. It involves laying on the ground, face up, and raising your arms and legs upwards. Maintain this position but make sure your lower back is firmly on the ground. Subsequently, lower your left leg and right arm to the ground and then return them to the original position. Continue to do this and alternate between left and right arms and legs. For more information on these exercises and a list of extra exercises, visit http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2016-01-29/8-best-equipment-free-strength-exercises-for-older-adults.

 

In conclusion, exercise is essential to a healthy life. Our bodies are made to move and need to, to work efficiently. Not only that, our general health improves when we exercise and our body combats chronic illnesses, such as osteoporosis. Moreover, our mental health improves when we exercise because we feel like we have achieved something. Overall, there is no reason we should not exercise and if you are looking for a way to improve your lifestyle and general health, we say exercise. Please note, we recommend you speak to your doctor before undertaking an exercise regime in case there are certain manoeuvres you should avoid.