A study was recently made by LIFE (Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders) about how maintaining a “structured moderate-intensity physical activity” can increase mortality, independence, and continued mobility among the elderly. This study was done because our elderly is going in and out of hospitals from accidents due to decreasing body mobility. Unfortunately, every time this situation happens, the elderly usually does not regain the muscle strength (however little it was) that he or she had before the accident. It’s usually the point of no return for some and the ability to move starts deteriorating from there. And because we at Parentis Health Senior Care are believers that prevention will always be better than the cure, we gathered the best exercises for the elderly that will increase mobility and in turn will decrease future accidents brought about by stiff muscles. Although still very far from achieving that elusive eternal life, it’s a tiny step to prolonging our health. One of our partners, Age Well Senior Services actually offers a lot of balance and mobility classes. Classes being offered may differ from city to city so please do check out their website here. In the meantime, the five listed below are also being offered by different organizations or support groups as an alternative.
- Gentle Yoga – The Department of Aging pronounced that strength, flexibility, balance, and aerobic capacity are the core elements to sustaining good physical health. Yoga encompasses all four components so it’s like hitting four birds with one stone! It is important though, that a professional manages the flow of the activity to make sure that elderly participants are safe and are literally going with the program. Those interested to teach voluntarily can visit the Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County website for more information.
- Tai Chi – This activity eases stress and is very calming to the mind and body. It’s literal translation AND how Tai Chi is now being practiced is totally at the opposite sides of the spectrum. So have you ever wondered why the movements are monotonous? There is actually a purpose for that. The deliberate repetitive movements improve the lower body and strengthen the legs, which in turn improves balance and stability at the ankles and knees. In Sunny California, a lot senior care facilities promote Tai Chi because the weather almost always cooperates here.
- Water Aerobics – Water therapy exercises help gain strength, stamina, and balance. More importantly, this is a fun alternative to get the body moving. A qualified instructor should be present during this activity to ensure the safety of the participants. The Rehabilitation Institute of Southern California offers Aquatic Exercise Classes for the elderly. For more details, visit their website here.
- Light Weight Lifting – The older we get, the lesser our bone density and muscle mass become. Unlike wine, we really don’t get better with age so it is important not to settle into a sedimentary way of living. We have to ensure that our elderly are active and encourage them to move and do simple weight lifting exercises, of course with proper guidance from a professional. For those who are just recovering from a stroke, the RTH Stroke Foundation website has an extensive resource solely for the rehabilitation of stroke patients.
- Walking – No surprise here! Aside from being the safest for the elderly, it’s hands down, the easiest physical activity to do. And the fact that there is no need for props, professional trainers, or special locations to get it done with is an added bonus. Of course, we must always make sure that there is a walking companion to go along with our elderly loved ones. The companion actually has several roles to play. He or she is there as a sounding board, cheer leader, safety net, and overall captain of the ship. The Office on Aging website actually has a great walking program for our seniors. It is definitely worth checking out!
It’s a known fact that as we age, our body also slowly degrades. For the longest time, we have always accepted this natural phenomenon and left nature to do its own bidding. There is just no fountain of youth to be found in this era, unfortunately. But we can be rest assured that with the right exercise, we can prolong our mobility as long as we can.