For seniors in care or living independently, exercise holds great importance in sustaining a well-rounded level of physical and mental health well beyond the age of 65. Following some simple daily exercises can improve quality of life and will maintain a more youthful vitality by greatly reducing the effects of aging.
By implementing some of the basic exercise guidelines we discuss in this article along with the correct nutrition, one can have a greater chance of maintaining a healthy weight and brain function into their senior years. We hope you find inspiration from some of the information outlined below and enjoy benefits such as a strengthened immune system, and less pain which can ultimately result in reduced health care costs in later life.
Whether you are caring for a senior or are over the age of 65 yourself we encourage you to discover the important reasons why you should start a fitness program. Learn about the specific types of fitness routines that suit your age group and mobility level and set up some goals to keep fitness levels on track. In this article, we will share various studies backed by science and methods you can use to get you started.
The prevention of heart disease in seniors
In 2019 a study was conducted at a clinic in Cleveland to determine if exercise would have an effect on the prevention of heart disease, as there have been many questions about whether the changes in the heart structure as a result of high-intensity exercise could potentially do more harm than good.
The study looked at 178 men and women over the age of 50 (with the average age being 68) competing in the World Senior Games.
The level of exercise of the participants ranged from low, medium and high intensity.
Researchers performed echocardiograms on the seniors to measure their heart function.
The study determined that high levels of exercise actually improved heart function for seniors.
“We were able to find that in seniors who exerted high-intensity exercise, it actually preserved the filling-function of the heart, more than it did in people who had moderate-intensity exercise or lower-intensity exercise,” said Chete Eze-Nliam, M.D., MPH, of Cleveland Clinic, who led the research.
Exercise in Aged Care
Exercise is very important in aged care as it keeps the body supple, lifts the mood and spirits of participants and gives a feeling of wellbeing and achievement. For an older person, the word exercise can be daunting and they may think that at their age exercise is no longer a priority.
In the aged care lifestyle program, we often run activities that have some sort of physical exercise and if our residents are having a fun time they don’t even realize that they are exercising. I will go into more detail with some of the activities that can be done and enjoyed by the people who attend.
- Come up with names for activities that don’t say physical exercise or exercise groups like Tone up with Toni, Bob’s Bowls, Bean Bag Toss, Seated Tai Chi & Yoga
- Lots of these activities are helped with some upbeat & popular music being played while the activity is in progress it keeps them moving.
- Tai Chi and Yoga groups benefit from soothing and oriental music to complement the activity.
- People in wheelchairs can join in as they still can participate sitting down or if someone is feeling unstable on their feet that can sit on a chair, all these activities have been done easily in a seated position.
- Make sure the area you are using is clear of obstacles and have all the equipment needed for the activity set up and ready to start when the residents arrive
- Have seats in rows so everyone can watch all participants and also rest until it is their turn to join in the game.
- Serve a refreshment midway through the activity to keep everyone hydrated.
A healthy body equals a healthier brain function for seniors
Research published in the National Library of Medicine shows that regular exercise improves brain function and that body and mind are closely linked. Studies show that seniors that exercise regularly can experience the benefits of an improved and healthier central nervous system with much resistance to neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Which exercise is best suited for seniors (and which to avoid)
Choosing the right exercise program is important to each individual, to ensure it is sustainable it should be free from pain and risk of injury. We have listed the top choices to cater for different levels of mobility.
- Water aerobics
- Seated Yoga
- Strength training with lighter weights
Exercises that are not recommended for those over 65 years.
- Bench press
- Heavy compound movements like deadlift and squat
- Upright row
- High-intensity interval training
- Rock climbing