I'm A Senior....What Can Exercise Do For Me?
Many of us have elderly
parents who are becoming increasingly frail and weakened
with age. The following article will give you information
that you may be able to use to encourage your elderly
parents to start moving to increase their muscular strength
and balance, creating a greater sense of independence.
Many people 90 and older who
have become physically frail from inactivity can
more than double their strength through simple
exercises in a fairly short time. For
some, that can mean the difference between
getting up from a chair by themselves or
depending on someone to help them. In one
study, some people 80 and older progressed from
using walkers to using canes after doing simple
muscle-building exercises for just 10 weeks.
Most people know that
exercise is good for them. Somehow, though, older adults
have been left out of the picture ó until recently. Today a
new picture is emerging from research: Older people of
different physical conditions have much to gain from
exercise and from staying physically active. They also have
much to lose if they become physically
Exercise isnít just for
older adults in the younger age range, who live
independently and are able to go on brisk jogs, although
this book is for them, too. Researchers have found that
exercise and physical activity also can improve the health
of people who are 90 or older, who are frail, or who have
the diseases that seem to accompany aging.
active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay
some diseases and disabilities as people grow older. In some
cases, it can improve health for older people who already
have diseases and disabilities, if itís done on a long-term,
What Kinds of Activities Improve Health and Ability?
Four types of exercises
help older adults gain health benefits:
increase your breathing and heart rate. They improve the
health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Having
more endurance not only helps keep you healthier; it can
also improve your stamina for the tasks you need to do to
live and do things on your own ó climbing stairs and grocery
shopping, for example.
Endurance exercises also
may delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging,
such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and
others, and reduce overall death and hospitalization rates.
build your muscles, but they do more than just make you
stronger. They give you more strength to do things on your
own. Even very small increases in muscle can make a big
difference in ability, especially for frail people.
Strength exercises also
increase your metabolism, helping to keep your weight and
blood sugar in check. Thatís important because obesity and
diabetes are major health problems for older adults. Studies
suggest that strength exercises also may help prevent
help prevent a common problem in older adults: falls.
Falling is a major cause of broken hips and other injuries
that often lead to disability and loss of independence. Some
balance exercises build up your leg muscles; others require
you to do simple activities like briefly standing on one
help keep your body limber by stretching your muscles
and the tissues that hold your bodyís structures in place.
Physical therapists and other health professionals recommend
certain stretching exercises to help patients recover from
injuries and to prevent injuries from happening in the first
place. Flexibility also may play a part in preventing falls.
Source: Adapted from
National Institute on Aging
Part 1: I'm elderly, what can exercise do for me?
Part 2: Exercises for the elderly
Part 3: Is it safe for me to exercise?
Part 4: Is it safe for me to exercise? ...continued