Even Gentle Exercises Performed For Minimal Periods Of Time Can Lead To Big Benefits In The Physical And Mental Health Of Your Senior Loved One
Your senior loved one might believe exercise is a waste of time, if not impossible, for them. However, there’s evidence that even small steps can have big benefits. Pegasus home healthcare services in Universal City and elsewhere include helping individuals move to improve how they feel.
Aging slows most people down. Activities that used to be easy for your loved one become more difficult. Metabolism slows as well, and pounds start to pile on, slowing them even more.
As individuals become less active, they start losing muscle mass, and they lose strength. That significantly increases the risk of falls in older adults. They become afraid of exercise, which compounds their decline.
Fear of falling isn’t the only hindrance to exercising. Your loved one may be in pain or have other health issues that make movement difficult. They may not know what kinds of exercises are safe for them.
That doesn’t mean signing up your senior at the nearest gym. Workouts geared toward young and physically fit adults are unrealistic and often unsafe for older adults. Healthy exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous.
One recent study showed that as little as “56 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week” was beneficial. Individuals who exercised significantly decreased their risk of losing mobility. A sedentary senior can start with five to ten minutes every day.
Exercise Improves Mental And Physical Health
The benefits of even very gentle exercises are well documented. Any movement improves physical and mental health. That leads to increased independence.
Moving strengthens your loved one’s immune system. Strong immune systems help individuals resist infections and diseases. It also enables a quicker recovery when illness or accidents occur.
Medical conditions that benefit from exercise include:
- Arthritis and other joint problems
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Digestive issues
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Respiratory diseases
Regular exercise, for even very minimal times, leads to stronger bones. Flexibility and balance are improved. Individuals who exercise improve their energy levels and overall well-being.
Active Individuals Often Live Longer Than Sedentary Individuals
Research shows that physically active people tend to live longer than those who are sedentary. That is true even if your senior loved one doesn’t start exercising until late in life.
Despite all the benefits of physical movement, many remain resistant to exercise. Common reasons include beliefs such as:
- I am old, sick, and frail, and it’s too late for exercise to benefit me
- I might fall down if I exercise
- I can’t move like I used to, so it’s pointless to try
- I can’t move because I’m disabled
- My bones and muscles hurt too much to move
And the classic complaint from individuals of all ages: exercise is boring.
There Are No Valid Reasons To Avoid Exercising
Experts have rebuttals for all the reasons to given for avoidance of exercise. Individuals are never too old to take steps to improve their health. Exercise brightens mood and helps seniors feel and look younger.
Falls are significantly reduced by the improvements in strength and balance resulting from exercise. Halting the loss of bone mass also helps keep seniors upright.
No one expects seniors to exercise like teenagers. That doesn’t mean they can’t engage in physical activity at levels that fit them. Being sedentary ages individuals more than getting older.
Frail or disabled seniors may not be mobile. In that case, you or a Pegasus home health caregiver can help them with chair exercises. These are exercises performed while sitting.
Some chair exercises are very simple, such as ankle or wrist rolls. Others require more strength, such as arm lifts. All can be modified to suit individual abilities.
As with other types of exercise, chair exercises can be done at home or in a group setting. A quick internet search for senior exercises yields videos, examples, and tips. Additionally, Pegasus physical therapists customize exercises that are appropriate and safe for seniors.
One key to exercising is to make it fun. Dancing is an enjoyable exercise for many individuals, and it’s inexpensive. Going for a short walk, or doing chair exercises outside, adds the benefit of fresh air to physical activity.
Avoid The “No Pain, No Gain” Mentality
There are good reasons to avoid a particular exercise. If it causes pain, then it should be stopped immediately. Any exercise should also be stopped if your senior experiences:
- Breaking into a cold sweat
- Chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
Exercising should be postponed after surgery and during an illness or infection.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Since 1994, we’ve helped individuals remain safe and independent in their home. We provide care designed to improve the quality of life for your loved one.
Our team of experts tailors their services to fit the needs of each person. Everyone is treated with dignity and respect for their privacy regardless of their medical needs. Our home healthcare professionals in Universal City and our other locations are here for you and your loved one.