Exercise & the Elderly
As we all know, exercise is essential to both a healthy lifestyle & Healthy mind set. We are always told that a 20 minute walk a day does wonders for both our physical and mental health. With 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 weaker. However, that does not mean we should stop exercising. According to Ashley Oliver a senior physiotherapist at Bupa Health Clinics -“Getting enough exercise has a whole host of benefits for your physical and mental health. Studies show that people over 65 who regularly exercise are healthier and less likely to develop serious long-term health conditions than those who don’t. Doing regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing: High blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and back pain and some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer”
As you know, physical exercise can be beneficial for a number of reasons in people of all ages. However, you may ask, how much exercise should I do if I am over 65? According to Kim Joyce of www.livestrong.com “A large health study reported in 2011 suggests that all adults — including seniors — can benefit from as little as 15 minutes per day of moderately heart-pumping exercise. About 30 minutes is the official recommendation, in addition to at least two sessions per week of muscle-strengthening activity or exercise. Try to fit four types of exercise into any senior exercise regimen.”
In the below I will outline some of the physical health benefits for exercise along with some of the mental health benefits of physical exercise.
Physical Health Benefits
- Weight Loss. As your body’s metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge for most. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories.
- Reduce risks of Illness & Disease. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone strength, along with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and much more.
- Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls in the elderly. Strength training along with this helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis and stiffness of the joints.
Mental Health Benefits
- Improves sleep. Quality sleep is vital for your overall health. Regular activity can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed. This is vital as the years go on for the elderly.
- Boosts mood and self-confidence. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins produced can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident.
- Improves Brain Activity. Activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles can help keep your brain active, but little comes close to the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. It can help brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity and can help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Having discussed the benefits of exercise on both your physical and mental health, I now think it’s time to give you some example exercises so you can start your journey today.
Examples of Simple Exercises
- Lying Hip Bridges – This exercise focuses on your glutes (Rear End) and is good for people who spend a lot of time sitting down. It involves lying 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 glute muscles, which combat 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.
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 illnesses and diseases when doing so. Furthermore, our mental health improves when we exercise because we feel like we have achieved something. Overall, there is no reason as to why we should not exercise and if you are looking for a way to improve your lifestyle and general health, exercise is the key.
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Kym Joyce, Livestrong.com
Ashley Oliver, Bupa Health Clinics