by Anetta Townsend – Director of Care
Our need for physical fitness doesn’t disappear with age—but our needs change. Our bodies are constantly going through changes, but the changes a 70-year-old experiences are different than the ones a 30-year-old experiences. That’s why what’s an appropriate workout for a 30-year old isn’t appropriate for someone who is 70+.
Seniors (aged 70 and older) face a decrease in muscle strength, bone density, and balance. Appropriate exercise can slow that loss. Strength training can delay the onset of frailty and enable seniors to remain physically active. If strength training conjures up images of body-builders, you can put that image out of your mind. We’re talking about the kind of strength that allows seniors to enjoy mobility. And strength training should be combined with Aerobic Training as well.
It’s important that training be modified to the needs of seniors. That includes a slower progression when training and allowing longer recovery between sessions. Machine weights can be good tools, as are stretch bands, or light dumbbells. But seniors should avoid high-impact activities.
Appropriate aerobic training activities may include: walking, hiking, biking, and water exercises. Strength training activities that are appropriate include light machine weights and dumbbells, along with ankle weights, stretch bands, wall push-ups and chair rises. Balance and mobility training are important, too and may include things like stair stepping, single leg balance (using a chair), Tai Chi, and Yoga.
Of course knowing about the importance of fitness for seniors is importance. Encouraging them to participate is another story. Unfortunately, many seniors have bought into the myth that getting older means a sedentary lifestyle. On top of that, many seniors just don’t feel comfortable in an exercise setting. They may be somewhat anxious about their ability to “perform.” And trying new things doesn’t get easier with age!
That’s one reason we encourage our residents with the social aspect of exercise. It’s something they can do with their friends and neighbors. We remind them it’s not a competition. We also find that it’s helpful when family members and loved ones support and encourage these activities. Your attitude toward fitness can make a big impact on how your senior loved one approaches age-appropriate exercise.
If you have questions about how we approach fitness at Daystar, drop us a note and we’d be happy to share what we do to keep our residents healthy and happy.