Exercise and activity is not only good for our bodies it helps to keep our minds sharp too. There is increasing understanding that “a healthy mind means a healthy body” and vice-versa so there are all sorts of good reasons why exercise and activity should be incorporated into the daily routine of everyone regardless of age or ability.
When there are health and mobility issues it can be difficult to commit to an exercise routine but the health benefits of staying active should not be underestimated. With the help of home care services or 24/7 live-in care you can find that your elderly parent is more able to maintain their health, happiness and independence when they are more active.
For older people who are not used to exercising the general advice is to start slowly with around 30 minutes per day, building up gradually to longer periods where possible. Exercise should be a mixture of aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. People with health issues should consult their GP before starting a new exercise routine but the importance of physical activity for seniors cannot be emphasised enough.
This simply means exercise that improves your heart and lung fitness by raising your heart rate and making you slightly breathless. These can be done anywhere and include:
- Taking a brisk walk in the fresh air or around the home if there is limited mobility.
- Swimming is a great all-round exercise and beneficial for non-weight bearers.
- Gardening. A gentle half-hour weeding and doing some light digging works wonders for general fitness.
- Marching on the spot for at least two minutes helps raise the heart and breathing rate.
Muscle strengthening exercises
It’s possible to slow down muscle loss with these activities:
- Tai Chi. Accompany your loved one to a local Tai Chi class. This ancient is great for improving balance and flexibility without any strain.
- Worktop push-ups. These can be done not on the floor but against a kitchen worktop. Just stand around 12” from the worktop edge, place your palms against the edge and push away for around 10-12 repetitions, 3 times a day.
- Strengthen arms by holding a bag of sugar or tin of beans in each hand and do bicep curls or raising your hands to the ceiling.
- Simple squats and knee-bends with your arms crossed in front of you help tone the muscles of the legs and bottom.
- Sideways bends, 10-12 on each side and with your arms straight up in the air can help to tone the waist.
For elderly people struggling to recover after illness or who have limited mobility the concept of exercising may be too much to contemplate. There are still possibilities for exercising even for those who are bed or chair bound.
Using small, light hand weights or resistance bands to strengthen muscles while using repeated movements can help to keep muscles active. Doing a series of repetitive movements like circling ankles and lifting arms above the head, or bending side to side if possible, all helps to maintain healthy circulation.
Research by the Live-in Care Hub found that older people are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, back pain and osteoarthritis and were happier and healthier generally than those who don’t exercise at all.