It is important for everyone to stay active all year long, especially seniors. It is well documented that physical activity is safe for healthy and frail older people. As we age, our body naturally starts to lose muscle mass and strength so it’s important that activity levels are maintained. This can range from low intensity walking to recreational sports and resistance exercises. It may also include indoor and outdoor household chores. Studies show the risks of developing major cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, obesity, falls, osteoporosis and muscular weakness are reduced when activity is increased. Regular physical activity also helps to improve mental functions as well as keep older people mobile and independent longer.
To help prevent atrophy, there are four parts of activity you should include in your routine.
Cardiovascular or Endurance Training – Endurance activities like walking, climbing stairs, raking the leaves, swimming or dancing increases your breathing and heart rate, which can improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
Strength Training– Activities like lifting weights or cans, using resistance bands or doing weight bearing moves like push ups and chair squats help to strengthen your muscles and bones.
Core Training and Balance Exercises – Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles through sit ups and “superman” exercises help to keep your core strong. A strong core helps you maintain your balance better. Other balance exercises can include standing on one foot, walking heel-to-toe or performing tai chi or yoga. By improving your balance, you can help prevent falls.
Flexibility Training – Stretching is a great way to keep you more limber and flexible. When you are more flexible, you simply move more fluently and feel better.
To get the best results, consider daily exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. Increase your levels to 30 minutes most days of the week or for the recommended 2.5 hours per week. As you increase your activity, it’s important to stay hydrated. This is especially true as you start to exert yourself more in the heat and humidity of the summer months. Consider moving your outdoor routine indoors and in the comfort of air conditioning when possible. Keep in mind, seniors are going to get dehydrated faster, get overheated easier, and their symptoms arise more quickly than your average adult. It is important to observe seniors closely for prevention.
At Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community, there are a variety of ways that we keep our seniors not only active but also hydrated, especially during these summer months. We offer chair exercise and yoga classes, personal exercise physiologists, dance classes and more. When it comes to hydration, we try to not just offer it with meals, but also during and after our engaging activities. We even try to make hydration fun by offering water tastings with fresh fruits and herbs from our very own community or tower gardens.