The Importance of Exercise for Your Aging Loved One

As we age it becomes more important than ever to consider our health and how staying active can benefit us. Exercises change for different age groups. When we are young exercise comes easily. We aren’t worried about our bodies not responding the way we want them to. We can move with grace, dexterity and agility. We aren’t held back by the way our bodies move. When we get older we must begin to consider the safety of our bodies much more carefully. It is best to continue staying active, but it must be done differently. Our aging loved ones need to stay active in a different way. It is essential to understand the importance of exercising for your aging loved one.

Aerobic Activities

When it comes to aerobics, it’s not just about burning off calories anymore, although that is a perk. When we do aerobic activities, we’re lowering our blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and maintaining joint movement, improving our heart’s health, and increasing energy levels overall.

Building endurance will take some time, depending on current health and activity levels, but start small. Start with 5-minute cardio sessions, and eventually work up to 30 minutes daily. Moderate activities can include walking and swimming, both fairly gentle tasks on the body. More intense activities can include hiking, running or playing tennis. Listen to the body, it will tell you what feels right.

Strength Activities

Maintaining muscle strength is very important for aging bodies. To fight the loss of muscle mass and strength, it’s a good idea to continue types of exercises that will help increase the amount of muscle available on the body. Paired with aerobic training, strength training is extremely beneficial to aging bodies.

Strength training will improve your functional strength and flexibility, which will keep you safe in your daily activities, and less vulnerable to other injuries. You’ll also increase bone mass and density—perfect for helping combat osteoporosis. Another benefit you’ll experience is reduced resting blood pressure, and reduced lower back pain.  You’ll also experience reduced pain from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Along with all that, you’ll feel a boost in self-esteem and confidence since you’ll both look and feel better.

By doing small activities like bicep curls, arm raises, leg raises and squats (with a chair, if you need assistance) will help you maintain or increase your strength. Even sitting in a chair and standing again can help build strength. You can increase your strength in sitting activities, such as pedaling or walking in the air. Toe scrunches, hand scrunches, and wrist and ankle rotations can also help you increase your strength and mobility.

There are plenty of strength building activities. Again, listen to your body. It will tell you what it can and cannot do. Don’t push too far too quickly. Keep yourself safe, and explore the options available to you to increase your strength.

Balance Activities

One of the most important things you can do as your body ages is to maintain your balance. Ever important in reducing your risk of falls, it’s best to do daily balance activities so that your body can stay as mobile as possible.

You can work on your balance through a variety of activities: using your kitchen counter for support if needed, step forward, sideways and backwards. Keeping your body familiar with moving in all directions is important in being able to maintain your balance in all situations. Start slowly, and increase the speed of these steps as you begin to feel more comfortable and stronger.

If you have soft items around, you can use these in a balance activity. Make sure the items you are using are not over 6 inches high, since you don’t want to place yourself at unnecessary risk. Step over these soft items to practice your mobility. Don’t get too ambitious, though! Safety first.

Another easy activity is to use painter’s tape to place a straight line on the floor, and practice walking in a straight line. This is especially helpful for sideways activities.

Remember, if you have any concerns over your health, see your doctor for a professional opinion. If you can work on these activities at home, you’ll certainly increase the quality of life for yourself or your aging loved one. At this time, we need to recognize the importance of exercising for our aging loved ones. If we can stay a step ahead to stay healthy, it’s certainly something we can add to our lifestyles.

About Joan Cisneros LPN

Joan Cisneros is COO and Agency Manager at Private Home Care Services of Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Joan has over 25 years of professional healthcare experience, including Private Duty Home Care, nursing, insurance, case management, training, and operations. Her area of expertise is Alzheimer¹s care, which she knows from both a professional and personal perspective. Her solid capabilities are enhanced by her compassionate approach and her personal mission to help people maintain their independence by providing the best possible home care.
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