Exercise may not just help seniors physically – some experts believe it can help with cognitive issues as well.
A study published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when a person went through a six-month program of physical activity, it provided a modest level of improvement in memory-related issues.
However, for those coping with a chronic condition, such as seniors in need of elder home care services, the task of starting a new exercise regime is a daunting and worrisome. Before an older adult attempts any physical exercise, they should consult their physician to make sure they do not perform any workout that could be harmful or unsafe.
After getting a health care provider’s approval, many fitness trainers at local gyms and YMCAs know specific techniques the elderly can use. It is the job of these instructors to motivate older people to get off the couch without a sense of intimidation.
Since seniors often don’t have spare funds for a personal trainer, many fitness centers offer group lessons at reasonable rates. Aqua aerobic classes or walking clubs are two popular choices. These classes come with the bonus of making exercise a social endeavor – which experts believe also helps with brain health.
Water fitness is a good option because experts say it is generally gentle, with motions that make a low impact on joints. It is also a good preference for people with serious physical impairments. Those who have trouble walking can sometimes still move in the pool. Furthermore, the water resistance improves a person’s strength over time, helps with cardiovascular fitness, and supplies a safe environment. This gives the person working out peace of mind that they won’t put too much strain on their bodies all at once.
Tai chi is another option to improve balance and core strength in seniors. According to the Harvard Health Publication, a newsletter of the Harvard Medical School (HMC), tai chi, which is often described as “meditation in motion,” “might well be called ‘medication’ in motion.’” Experts believe tai chi can help the elderly achieve muscle strength, aerobic conditioning, balance and flexibility. Some believe it also makes a positive impact on arthritis, bone density, breast cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep problems, stroke paralysis and Parkinson’s disease.
For more information and links to resources, please visit the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports website, and download a copy of Homewatch CareGivers’ Guide to Senior Health and Wellness.