Exercise is vital for seniors too

Exercise is vital for seniors too

Fitness is often equated with young, toned, and well-muscled physiques. However, older adults, such as elderly residents of nursing homes, can gain significant health benefits — physically and mentally — from exercise.

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), recent studies involving inactive nursing home residents in their 80s and 90s have demonstrated the overwhelming benefits of regular exercise.

Additional research also shows that older adults can harm their health far more by not exercising. According to Golden LivingCenter, one of Sheboygan’s providers of eldercare services, elderly patients often avoid doing the very things that could improve their health due to concerns over perceived fragility. The first step toward breaking the cycle of inactivity is to overcome this resistance.

Even if it’s an uphill battle to convince your loved one, the potential benefits are worth it. By starting slowly and building up gradually, those who became physically frail from inactivity can more than double their strength in a short period of time. Simultaneously, regular exercise can help prevent or delay the effects of many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

On a more personal level, seniors who regularly exercise feel better overall, have more energy and become increasingly independent.
For those who rely on others for daily living, like dressing or bathing, simply gaining the strength to perform some or all of these tasks can help restore dignity and confidence.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults are recommended to exercise at least 2.5 hours per week with a mixture of light and moderate aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Some exercises can be performed without equipment — a can of food, for instance, serves nicely as a one-pound weight. The key is to exercise on a long-term, regular basis.

As always, err in the side of caution when it comes to exercise. Because many older people have multiple medical problems, it is critical to get a physician’s approval before undertaking an exercise program.

How can you help your loved one begin? Allow him or her to work at a comfortable pace. Encourage your loved one’s efforts, and celebrate even small improvements in his or her health or physical ability. Most important, help him or her to stick with it. Better yet, participate with your loved one in their exercise regimen.

On Wednesday, May 27, you can participate with your loved ones in honor of National Senior Health and Fitness Day.

Golden LivingCenter is proudly teaming up with the Senior Activity Center of Sheboygan to celebrate this day.

There will be a one mile walk from the Senior Activity Center to Fountain Park where citizens can participate in a series of physical activities, listen to live music and watch performances. This event is free for all ages so encourage the seniors in your life to come and celebrate!

Erica Gollhardt, admissions director for Golden LivingCenter-Sheboygan, is a member of the Sheboygan County Activity and Nutrition Coalition.