Food, movement, and sleep are the three main ingredients for a healthy life, and health experts agree. Observing a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and microelement is essential for aging gracefully. Sleep, or the time our brain and body need to recuperate, regenerate and restore energy, is also vital for the correct functioning of all systems and organs.
Exercise or physical activity, however, is one of the pivotal components that let seniors stay independent and agile for as long as possible.
Exercising is beneficial for seniors’ physical health, their muscles, ligaments, bones, and joints. It helps them retain their normal capacity and functionality. Regular physical activity creates endurance and strength.
It combats problems with balance, gait, and posture. Moreover, it contributes to a more robust cardiovascular system, better digestion, and well-balanced insulin levels.
Besides the physical benefits, exercises are great for fending off depression, anxiety, and insomnia in older adults. These effects are due to the production of serotonin and endorphins, hormones responsible for feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
In addition, playing sports, dancing, and participating in group activities can contribute to a richer, and more interesting social life for your senior loved one.
A few factors may make it challenging for seniors to exercise or engage in regular physical activity. These can be physical, psychological, or related to the senior’s environment.
Here are some common reasons why seniors may face challenges when it comes to exercise:
Chronic health conditions, joint pain, arthritis, mobility issues, or balance problems can make exercising difficult, uncomfortable, or even painful for your senior beloved. These limitations may discourage them from participating in physical activities.
It is not uncommon for seniors to worry about the risk of injury during exercise, especially if they have pre-existing health conditions or a history of falls. Fear of falling or exacerbating their health condition can deter them from exercising.
Some seniors may experience fatigue or low energy levels, making initiating or sustaining regular exercise routines a lot more challenging. This can be due to age-related factors, certain medications, or underlying health conditions.
This lack of motivation or interest in exercise can be due to the perception of it as boring, repetitive, or unenjoyable. The absence of social support or exercise companions can also contribute to a lack of motivation.
If your senior beloved has any cognitive impairments, such as dementia, they may struggle to remember or follow exercise instructions or may have difficulty coordinating movements. This can make it harder for them to participate in structured exercise programs.
Perhaps your aging beloved is unaware of the benefits of physical activity or how to do them safely and effectively. They can benefit from some guidance or education about appropriate exercise options for their age and health condition.
External factors such as access to exercise facilities, dangerous neighborhoods, or lack of transportation can also prevent your beloved senior from being physically active. Weather conditions, especially extreme heat or cold, can also hinder outdoor exercise.
Depression, anxiety, or a negative body image can all discourage your aging loved one from participating in sports activities. Having low self-esteem or no confidence in their physical abilities may also play a role in their reluctance to exercise.
Addressing these barriers to exercise requires a tailored approach that considers individual needs and circumstances. It can involve:
Additionally, finding enjoyable activities and setting realistic goals can help motivate seniors to overcome obstacles and incorporate exercise into their daily lives.
The role of caregivers in supporting seniors to exercise regularly and engage in physical activity is essential. There are many ways in which caregivers can assist seniors.
Caregivers can encourage and motivate seniors by emphasizing the importance of exercise for their general wellness. It may make a considerable difference in the effort and commitment they put into exercising if they have someone nearby who can encourage them and praise their efforts.
Working together with seniors, caregivers can develop an exercise plan that best suits your loved one’s abilities, preferences, and interests.
This collaborative approach can be beneficial in a few ways.
With their training and experience working with older adults, caregivers can provide your senior loved ones with guidance and instruction on safe and appropriate exercises.
They can explain the technique, demonstrate the movements, and ensure your beloved clearly understands how to perform the exercises correctly to avoid injury.
Many pieces of equipment, such as treadmills, rowers, elliptical bikes, etc., can be rather valuable in keeping your beloved in the best shape. However, many can be intimidating and seem complex to seniors.
Caregivers can effectively adjust the equipment, demonstrate its use and watch out for the correct use. They can also offer assistance with using tablets, tv, and projectors from which seniors can watch guided video exercises.
Exercising doesn’t have to be a lone activity. In fact, it is better if it is done with a ‘partner in crime’. Caregivers can participate in workouts together with your beloved senior, acting as exercise buddies. By joining in, they create a more enjoyable and social exercise experience. At the same time, they can provide support and motivation.
While working with seniors, joining them during training, and observing their motions and abilities, caregivers can adapt exercises to accommodate any advancement or physical limitations. They can modify exercises, choose low-impact activities, or incorporate assistive devices as needed to ensure safety and comfort during exercise.
Doing workouts or other physical activity in a safe environment is of utmost importance for your senior as a fall or other injury can be extremely dangerous. Caregivers can help create a safe environment by ensuring that the area is hazard-free and there are no obstacles present. They should remove tripping hazards, check for proper lighting, and secure any used equipment.
Additionally, caregivers should be mindful of the senior’s individual limitations, not push them, and not allow them to push themselves beyond their capabilities. It’s crucial to stay within their comfort levels, adapt exercises if needed, and avoid any unnecessary strain or exertion.
Seniors are more likely to follow their workout routine consistently if they are reminded about it. Caregivers can help them establish a routine by scheduling sessions and providing reminders about the planned activities.
At the same time, caregivers can monitor the progress of seniors’ exercise routines and give feedback on their performance. This can provide additional motivation and a sense of accomplishment as they see improvements over time.
A Caregiver can collaborate with your senior loved one’s healthcare provider or physical therapist to get advice on the best exercises for your aging loved one and learn about any specific considerations based on the senior’s health condition. Professionals’ opinions can provide additional guarantees that the exercise program is safe and effective.
By providing support, encouragement, and personalized assistance, caregivers can significantly contribute to helping your senior maintain an active lifestyle and experience the benefits of regular exercise.
The ideal exercises for older adults should focus on improving
…while taking into account any individual health conditions or physical limitations.
Typically, workouts should be low-impact and low-intensity so that they are gentle on the skeletal system and the heart.
Here are some examples of exercises that will keep your loved one fit and active every day. These engaging cardio workouts are designed specifically for older adults, offering a range of seated and standing exercises to accommodate different fitness levels.
Walking, or brisk walking, is a type of low-impact exercise that can be easily added to the daily routine of your loved one. It is beneficial for cardiovascular health, prevents heart attacks, strengthens leg muscles, and promotes overall well-being.
When done outdoors, it can stimulate vitamin D production, improve breathing habits, and become a social activity performed with others.
However, walking can also be done indoors, as demonstrated in this video from yes2next.
Chair, or seated exercises, are a variety of movements that can be done by seniors with limited mobility or balance issues. These exercises are performed while sitting in a chair and moving the arms, the torso, the legs, and core muscles.
If you need guidance, a good place to look for chair exercises is the YouTube channel Improved Health.
Here’s a 9-minute beginner-friendly chair exercisee video your loved one can get started with.
This low-impact exercise is gentle on the joints while promoting muscle strengthening. Water aerobics classes consist of a variety of movements that boost flexibility, promote cardiovascular fitness, and improve balance. These exercises are usually organized as group activities, which also bring opportunities for social interactions.
Here is a nice video tutorial to get you and your loved one started.
Strength training workouts can involve using resistance bands, light dumbbells, kettlebells, and weights. They focus on big muscle groups and can help your loved one prevent muscle loss, improve bone density and strengthen balance.
Caregivers should remember that these exercises might be a bit technical and should be performed in an exact way to avoid injury and extra strain. We suggest following the routines in the youtube channel More Life Health, where you can find exercises with various equipment or targeting different areas of the body, assembled especially for seniors.
This ancient Chinese practice combines slow, flowing movements with deep breathing and meditation. Tai Chi shows impressive results in improving balance, flexibility, coordination, and relaxation, reducing the risk of falls.
Yoga enhances flexibility, strength, and balance. It is excellent for relaxation and in combat with anxiety and stress. Many senior yoga classes include modified poses and gentle flowy routines. Such are chair yoga or restorative yoga.
Here are 2 videos your loved one can follow for yoga and Tai Chi.
Some factors should be taken into consideration before and during exercising so that seniors can receive maximum benefits while remaining safe from injuries.
Having an attentive, trained, and experienced caregiver near your beloved older adult while they are working out is always a great option. Whether the caregiver will join the senior in the activity or not, it is crucial to stay vigilant during the activity.
Other guidelines that should be kept in mind are:
Before starting a training program, it is a good idea to consult with the senior’s physician. They can advise on the best regimen considering the physical condition and any limitations or disabilities your beloved senior may have.
Beginning each workout with a gentle few minutes warm-up will gradually increase the pulse and the blood flow while preparing the senior’s muscles for more strenuous activity. Similarly, ending with a cool-down will allow them to slow down their heart rate and stretch their muscles carefully.
Here a quick warm-up exercise video your loved one can follow.
Seniors should be reminded to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay adequately hydrated, especially in warmer climates or during more intense workouts. It is very easy for older adults to get dehydrated; therefore, caregivers should pay special attention to this.
Recommend exercises that match the seniors’ current fitness level. It is a good idea to progressively increase the length and intensity of the workouts over time to build endurance and strength in a safe manner.
A sudden spike in the heartbeat or a drop in blood pressure can be quite dangerous for older adults. Therefore seniors and their caregivers should pay attention to their body’s signals and not push beyond their limits.
On the other hand, it is pretty normal to feel muscle soreness after training, especially if they haven’t been engaged in physical activity for a while. However, sharp pain or extreme discomfort should not be disregarded. In the event of acute pain or shortness of breath, it’s crucial to stop exercising and seek medical advice if needed.
Rest and recovery are essential for seniors to prevent overexertion and allow the body to adapt to the exercise routine. Include rest days between workouts and always pay attention to their body signals for rest.
Physical activity through workout routines is essential for older adults. It allows them to keep their vitality, cognitive function, and independence for longer. Doing exercises in a consistent way can establish healthy habits, improve their mental state, and promote better life quality.
Although many factors may limit seniors’ abilities or prevent them from actively engaging in sports, with the help of Amy’s Eden attentive caregiver by their side, they can reap great benefits. Using the freely available online video workouts geared towards older adults is a smart and convenient way to start exercising from the comfort of one’s home.
Considering their fitness level, health condition, and their personal preferences, seniors can follow various workout routines. It is essential, though, that their caregiver is there to assist, monitor, and track the physical exercises. This will help keep them safe while making the most out of the routine.
If you’re looking for a caregiver to assist your loved one during exercise, or provide other forms of support, contact us today to find the ideal caregiver for your loved one.
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