Seniors and Exercise – A Vital Combination

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As we age, our body’s metabolism naturally slows, which is why it is difficult for seniors to maintain a healthy weight. That’s why exercise is the key to staying strong, energetic and healthy.

Since exercise helps speed up the body’s metabolism and builds muscle mass, it is easier for seniors to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise can also help manage the symptoms of illness and pain and, in some cases, can reverse some of the symptoms of aging. Regular exercise can prevent or at least delay diabetes and heart trouble. It is even possible to reduce arthritis pain with a regular plan of walking. Other benefits of exercise include improved immune function, better blood pressure, better bone density and better digestive functioning. Seniors who exercise regularly also have a lower risk of several chronic conditions including osteoporosis and colon cancer.

But that’s only the physical benefits of exercise. Exercise benefits the brain by keeping it active. This prevents, or at least slows, memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia. It may even delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease! Endorphins produced by exercise can actually help reduce feelings of sadness or depression and can give renewed energy.

Exercise also helps combat insomnia and other sleep disorders, leading to a deeper and better quality sleep. This leads to a refreshed and sharper mind and a more energetic body.

At Qualicare Franchise Corporation, our nurses and caregivers often develop an exercise programs for our clients, drawing from four main areas.

Cardio endurance exercises 

Activities such as walking, swimming or riding a bike can improve the health of heart, lungs and circulatory system. Not only do these exercises increase breathing and heart rate, they build stamina and staying power. This increased stamina helps some seniors live independently and perform simple life skills such as climbing stairs, cleaning, running errands or grocery shopping.

Strength exercises

Using weights, machines or elastic bands builds muscle, improves balance and helps prevent age-related loss of bone mass. These are critical factors in staying active and avoiding falls. Strength exercises also help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis as well as increasing metabolism and keeping weight and blood sugars in check. Building up strength will help seniors stay independent and make certain day-to-day activities easier – such as opening jars, getting in and out of the car, carrying groceries and lifting objects.

Balance exercises                      

Balance exercises are very important because they can help prevent the most common and most dangerous problem for seniors – falls. In older people, falls are a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disabilities, loss of independence and worse. These exercises can range from the very simple, such as standing on one leg, to much more involved exercises, like Yoga and Tai Chi.

Flexibility Exercises

Stretches keep the body agile by stretching the muscles and the tissues that hold the body’s structures in place. These stretching exercises help increase the range of movement for ordinary physical activities such as looking behind you while driving, tying shoes, shampooing hair and playing with grandchildren.

Aging is inevitable, but some of the things that happen to the body in the aging process can be controlled or even reversed with regular exercise. Whether it’s a formal trip to the gym, walking to the bus or the store, vigorously vacuuming or lifting weights, seniors need to get active. What may seem like very small changes resulting from exercise and physical activity can have a big impact, boosting energy and maintaining health, the mind and independence.

Our Qualicare Franchise caregivers are taught that when they are looking after a senior, it’s important that the caregivers understand that they shouldn’t do everything. It’s not a dereliction of duty to ask a senior (who is capable) to help wash or dry the dishes or to go with them to get the mail.  For seniors to age well, they must continue to be active.

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