Elderly People and Exercise

11 reasons elderly people MUST exercise regularly

“The wise mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” Williams Wordsworth (1770 – 1850).

We all are aging dally. We are not aware of it. Our deteriorating age-related symptoms send us signals. We realise we are aging when we are under the seize of many diseases.

Gerry R. Boss, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, in his paper Age-Related Physiological Changes and Their Clinical Significance,  writes about the physiological changes occur with aging in all organ systems. These are;

  • The cardiac output decreases,
  • Blood pressure increases and
  • Arteriosclerosis develops.
  • The lungs show impaired gas exchange, a decrease in vital capacity and slower expiratory flow rates.
  • Progressive elevation of blood glucose occurs with age on a multifactorial basis and osteoporosis is frequently seen due to a linear decline in bone mass after the fourth decade. Lean body mass declines with age and these are primarily due to loss and atrophy of muscle cells.
  • Degenerative changes occur in many joints, and this combined with the loss of muscle mass, inhibits elderly patients’ locomotion.

Exercise is the key to healthy aging. Even if you haven’t exercised for years, you still can start at any age and reap the benefits.

In my own professional experience, I have trained a few elderly ladies in her 60s. I have seen tremendous improvements in their quality of life.

Problems before exercise:

  • Regular body pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Low energy level
  • Digestive disorder
  • Breathing issues, exhausted quickly
  • Difficulty in daily routine activities

After 2 to 3 months regular exercise with me, I have seen the following improvements:

  • Quality of life improved
  • Heart and lung capacity improved, breathing improved, higher energy level
  • Joint movements become less painful and mobility improved
  • Improved flexibility, digestion improved
  • Positive towards life

American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends following health benefits if exercise and why elderly must exercise:

  1. To increase bone density and prevent Osteoporosis. As we live longer lives, Osteoporosis is affecting an ever-larger number of elderly – becoming one of the major health problems associated with old age. It affects some 20 million women and 5 million men and leads to more than 250,000 hip fractures each year. Exercise delays the onset of Osteoporosis by increasing bone strength.
  2. To improve self-efficiency and maintain independence. One of the top concerns of the elderly is losing control, becoming dependent or a burden to someone. Exercise helps older adults maintain a greater capacity to undertake the activities of daily living.
  3. To increase metabolism. Strength training increases muscle mass, which elevates metabolism. This may also lead to a reduction in overall body fat percentage.
  4. To maintain balance and improve reflexes to decrease falls. As adults age, there is a natural decline in balance and coordination, which can be postponed and even prevented with proper strength and balance training.
  5. To create a sense of community or feeling of belonging. Exercise groups enhance social interactions for many older adults who may not otherwise leave their homes. New friendships are also stimulated during group exercise gatherings.
  6. To improve pulmonary function. Pulmonary function declines with age due to the degeneration of the vertebral disks, which alters the shape of the thoracic cavity. Physical activity, which decreases the amount of vertebral degeneration and increases the strength of the thoracic cavity, may lead to improved pulmonary function.
  7. To boost mood. Exercise reduces the incidence of depression and improves self-esteem while providing a feeling of accomplishment.
  8. To help prevent and regulate diabetes. Aerobic exercise has shown to be an important means of preventing and treating non-insulin-dependent diabetes by helping regulate blood glucose levels.
  9. To improve flexibility, joint range of motion and functional movement. Physical activities that require the body to go through the full range of movement helps keep the body flexible and mobile. Circulation is also increased.
  10. To improve cardiovascular strength. Cardiovascular exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of heart disease. Appropriate physical training has shown improvements in most aspects of cardiovascular functioning.

Over and above these direct benefits,

  1. Finally, it relieves your dependency on your family members. It enhances your independence.

Aging is inevitable, graceful and healthy aging is a choice.

Share this with the elderly people you know and with their children to inspire them to get into the act of exercising.

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