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The Weight Loss Centre

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 inactive.

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.

Staying physically 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, regular basis.

What Kinds of Activities Improve Health and Ability?

Four types of exercises help older adults gain health benefits:

Endurance exercises 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.

Strength exercises 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 osteoporosis.

Balance exercises 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 leg.

Flexibility exercises 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






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