Thursday, June 5, 2014

Exercise benefits seniors - did we need a study for this?

A press release for a study published last week was titled, "Keeping active pays off even in your 70s and 80s." The release goes on to tell us that a study done in the U.K. found that older people who exercise for at least 25 minutes per day (moderate to vigorous) took fewer medications and were less likely have an unplanned (emergency) hospital admission.

While this sounds interesting, is it surprising? People who exercise regularly are generally healthier than those who don't. People who exercise are generally getting out of the house and experiencing social interaction. Exercise helps you maintain good balance, which reduces falls. Exercise also help you maintain an appetite and your gastrointestinal system seems to work more effectively (bringing to mind the evening "constitutionals," or walks that so many people enjoy after dinner). Why would this be any different for people over the age of 70 years?

Exercise should always be tailored to each individual. There is a big push for moderate to vigorous exercise, but not everyone can do it. When this message gets too strong, some people may feel that if they can't go to the gym for a cardio or spinning class, they might as well forego the whole thing. But for many, a tai chi class may be just the thing. Or a leisurely swim a few times a week. It's not heavy aerobics or vigorous exercise, but it might be just enough to keep the body as limber as possible, help maintain balance - and equally important - get people out of the house.

There was even a study several years ago that showed that the physical activity from interactive games, such as with the Wii system, was very helpful for people in long-term care facilities. Is it ideal? Maybe not, but any exercise that can be done safely and is appealing, is better than nothing.


bookworm said...

My mother in law is in her mid 80's. She can't walk very far. Last year, a geriatric care manager we hired for a time attempted to interest her in chair exercise or chair zumba at the local senior center. She went a few times, felt better, and lost some weight. Then she stopped going. Spends a lot of time sitting in front of the TV. No, we didn't need a study for this. It's so sad. Alana visiting from the Blogathon.

Delian Koffman said...

As we grow older, regular exercise can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging. Not only is exercise good for your body, it is also good for our mind, mood, and memory. Whether you are generally healthy or are managing an illness, there are variety of ways to get more physically active, improve confidence, and boost your fitness.