Do Seniors Need to Exercise?

Do you think your grandparents or your parents are too old to exercise?

Think again.

Regular exercise and physical activity are good for them. Aging nor medical illness are not contraindications to performing exercises.

For many elders who are usually retirees, physical activities diminish because there’s nothing more to do whether at home or out. During their younger years they were always moving. Their activities were almost always automatic. But when they retired the question that runs into their minds everyday is,”What shall I do today?”

Without exercise and physical activity, muscles become atrophic and the individual becomes weaker. As the muscles become weaker, the greater is the tendency to a more limited movement and the risk of fall increases.

To illustrate further, muscle wasting can also be seen among body builders who stop exercising. Their muscle bulk and strength diminish with time. However when they resume their exercise regimen, they build their muscles again and become stronger.

Regular physical activity has many benefits in all individuals. Yes in all individuals including the elderly. The frail individuals and even those who are bed-bound will also benefit from exercise.

Physical function, muscle strength, mood, sleep and metabolic risk profile improve with physical activity.
(Longo Dan, et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed.pp 584-585.)

An elder must consult first his physician before initiating an exercise program. His physician will check the elder’s capacity to exercise and will determine the best type of exercise for him.

My 97 year old mom who had bilateral hip joint replacement in her late 80’s is now using a walker for support. Her form of exercise is just walking around the house which only takes from 20 to 25 steps to finish just 1 round. Although we may not consider this as a form of exercise it’s better than not moving at all.

The National Institute on Aging had come up with the Go4Life campaign which was designed to help elders fit regular exercise and physical activity into their daily lives. I’d say that it has a complete exercise regimen for it contains exercises and activities for the 4 types of exercises, that is, Endurance, Strength, Flexibility and Balance. It also contains success stories which may inspire the elders to be more active. For more information click here.

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