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Exercise for the elderly

As people get older, they tend to become less active. However, as you get older, it is even more important to maintain a fitness routine.

Regular exercise in the elderly has many benefits:

1) It helps keep your body healthy and keeps the systems working well

2) The increase in metabolism increases your energy levels

3) Having a healthy, toned body will improve your confidence and outlook on life

The factors above definitely do not only apply to youngsters - exercise is good for seniors too. No matter what your age, the state of your health or your current fitness levels, making yourself move more is good for you. No matter what your current state of health, there are appropriate levels of exercise that will help you get active and improve your general fitness levels and metabolism.

Barriers to exercising in the elderly

When you get older, you tend not to move so quickly and are less inclined to want to get up and exercise. It's a common problem and a barrier that has to be overcome. Some people are unfortunate enough to have other problems such as chronic health conditions or injuries that make exercise even more difficult. And some elderly people are concerned about falling or injuring themselves while exercising.  For some elderly people, it's just a state of mind - they think they are just too old to exercise. 

However, non of the above factor should put you off exercising. There are ways to overcome most of these problems and fears. The benefit of exercising in the elderly far outweighs opting not to exercise because you think you can't.

Advantages of exercising for the  elderly

Exercise is the key to making yourself feel strong and energetic and making you want to participate in life to the full.

  • If you have health problems, exercising can help you manage the stress caused by your health problem and can even help with pain management.
  • If you have mental health problems, exercising will increase the flow of blood to the brain and will help your mood and memory.
  • Exercising can be fun, especially if you do it in a group. Exercise and social interaction are great ways of lifting the spirits.

What does exercise for the elderly involve?

When the term exercise is mentioned, many people think that it involves strenuous, aerobic activities or trips to the gym. Wrong! Exercise in the elderly is about adding movement and activity to the way you go about your everyday life  you can benefit even from the smallest of exercises. Even if you are managing an illness or housebound, there are many easy ways to get your body moving and to benefit from the improved fitness you will achieve.

Reasons why elderly people do not want to exercise

1) They are disabled, and think they cannot exercise while sitting down.

This is a myth - there are many exercises that wheelchair bound people can do such as lifting weights, stretching and very simple aerobic exercises that will improve the general fitness of the elderly person concerned. These exercises can improve muscle tone and promote a health heart.

2) Elderly people think they are too old to start exercising.

Wrong! It is never too late to start exercising. If you have not exercised in a long time, you must start with very simple exercises and build up your general fitness slowly. Walking is a good example of gentle exercise which you can increase each day, thus building up your fitness levels.

3) It is more important that elderly people rest rather than exercising.

This is a complete myth. Research as proved that a sedentary existence is good for nobody and encourages low spirits and weight gain. If people withdraw from exercise, they are effectively withdrawing from life and this can lead to mobility problems, mental problems, doctor visits and the use of medicines. Not of these are positive.

4) Elderly people think that they will fall down and injure themselves while exercising.

If you exercise regularly, you will build up tone and stamina which will build up your strength and reduce the risk of injuries and falls. Exercise can also build up bone mass and improve the balance, so exercising actually reduces the risk of falls and injuries.

5) Many elderly people think that they are getting old, so there is no point in exercising anyway.

In fact the opposite is true. If you exercise, it will help you look and feel younger and will help you stay active longer and enable you to maintain an independent lifestyle. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of a number of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, respiratory problems, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Other articles that may be of interest

Useful books on exercise for the elderly

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