Remaining physically active is important at every stage in life. Long term benefits of engaging in some form of exercise at least thirty minutes each day are extensive. They include maintaining a healthier weight, improved mood, better sleep patterns and avoiding or better controlling many health diagnoses. For seniors, an activity also helps improve balance, reduce susceptibility to osteoporosis and prevent dangerous falls and fractures.
The Value of Low-Impact Activity
While there is no disputing the value of exercise, seniors sometimes have a difficult time figuring out which activities are safe and effective. This is especially true for those who may already be suffering from some health concerns. Elderly individuals sometimes also feel less stable or mobile.
For these seniors, engaging in a low-impact exercise routine is often recommended. There are many low-impact exercises, and their common thread is typical that they allow one foot to remain on the ground at all times. They typically are not as hard on the body as high-impact exercises. Heart rates are often not as elevated when engaging in these activities. Their intensity level is not extreme either. This makes them ideal for seniors who might not feel steady, secure or comfortable engaging in exercise routines.
If you are a family caregiver who is concerned about your aging loved one’s health, encouraging them to begin a low-impact exercise routine helps. Remember that it is always important to discuss exercise with a medical professional before getting started. Additionally, some seniors benefit from physical therapy consults. These help them to both develop a routine and build their strength and endurance to a level where daily activity is possible.
Some excellent low-impact exercises that seniors might consider include:
- Walking at a brisk pace
- Swimming or low-impact water aerobics
- Yoga to strengthen the core and promote flexibility and coordination
- Pilates to strengthen the core through breathing and slow, concise movements
- Cycling indoors or outside on a smooth path (if the senior is not on a stationary bike, protective gear including a helmet and shin pads should always be worn)
- Weight training using smaller weights or even lighter materials that are easily found at home (cans, books or water bottles as an example)
- Leg raises on the back of a chair
- Seated chair exercises
Keep Things Fun
One of the best ways to incentivize a senior to get started with exercising is to make it fun. Encourage your loved one to pick an activity they enjoy, start small and build their endurance, flexibility and strength. Taking a dance class or participating in yoga at a senior center offers great opportunities for your loved one to meet people and mingle. This social time also often makes the activity fun and your loved one more apt to stick with it.
Another great way to encourage activity is by assisting your loved one in maintaining an exercise log. Sit with them and decide together on a goal or two to reach. Then, log every exercise session and the results. Include things like weight loss, health gains, mood, new social gains and other important things that help your loved one reach their goals.
The Right Support
Finally, make sure your loved one has the support they need. While some seniors can complete activities independently, many need help. This is especially true for seniors who have long lived a sedentary lifestyle. Support may be in the form of special equipment such as the right walking shoes, proper weights and comfortable, loose fitting clothing. It might also take the shape of physical assistance with activities from a family member, friend or professional in home caregiver. This individual can lend a hand, keep the senior stable or simply accompany them to classes or on walks and provide encouragement along the way.
Exercise is for everyone, and for seniors, many new benefits can be found in leading a healthy lifestyle. Encourage your loved one to get active even if just for a few minutes a day. Speak with their doctor, consult a physical therapist and make sure support is available should they need it. Salus Homecare Los Angeles encourages healthy living and daily activity for all seniors. We are always available to lend a hand. Give us a call to learn more.