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Exercises For The Elderly: 3 Options For Keeping Senior Citizens Healthy And Active
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There is a general misconception in our society that senior citizens can’t function well anymore and need to minimize exercise or strenuous activity. The aging of populations in the U.S. and around the world has changed this assumption because people are living longer and just aren’t ready to throw in the towel when it comes to living an active life. However, there is still a stigma to being elderly that persists and will only be eroded away over time.

If the elderly can continue to function well and remain active, what can they do to do so while remaining safe? The key is to develop an “action” plan, with the help if a physician, that optimizes the use of available options while taking the elderly person’s capabilities and interests into consideration.

There are several forms of exercises for the elderly that can be quite effective. An excellent action plan can be created utilizing just one or even all of these alternatives.

Aerobic - These are exercises that tone muscle throughout the body and burn fat. The effects that aerobic exercising has on your body includes improved circulation and lower blood pressure; increased lung capacity through stronger respiratory muscles; a stronger heart, which boosts pumping efficiency and lowers the resting heart rate; increased red blood cell count, which transports oxygen more efficiently throughout the entire body; and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Good examples of aerobic exercises for the elderly include walking, swimming, and running, cycling, riding an exercise bike, or walking on a treadmill.

Stretching and Relaxing - These exercises improve flexibility and enhance your overall health and fitness. Incorporating a regular flexibility program into your exercise routine will often result in: decreased pain and soreness after performing other exercises; improved circulation, range of motion, and posture; decreased muscle tension; reduction in muscle soreness; and improved ability to relax. Stretching is particularly helpful for the hamstrings, hips, lower back, quadriceps, and calves. Relaxation techniques include Tai Chi, yoga, imagery, meditation and self-hypnosis, and listening to relaxation tapes while exercising. These techniques can be very helpful in reducing stress and tension and lowering heart rate and blood pressure.

Strengthen Training - These exercises usually involve weights or some other form of resistance designed to improve a person’s strength and endurance. Strength training also helps to maintain the amount of bone in the body and can help maintain weight. Benefits of strength training include: increased muscular strength and strength in tendons and ligaments; improvement in flexibility (range of motion of joints); reduction in body fat and increased lean body mass (muscle mass); decreases in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure; positive changes in blood cholesterol; and improvement in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Strength training exercises for the elderly can include: bench press; lat pulldown; overhead press; bicep and leg; and abdominal crunch.

Any or all of these forms of exercises for the elderly can be great for helping them stay fit and healthy. However, it is very important to consult a physician before starting any exercise action program to ensure that the routine is appropriate for the person’s physical capabilities. In addition, make sure to provide plenty of moral support and positive feedback so that the elderly person will be motivated to complete the program consistently.

Find out how you can help an elderly family member or friend remain active and healthy at the Keep Seniors Active web site. Steven Watson, PhD has been a small business owner for over 10 years and a manager for 18 years. He previously owned a home health agency that specialized in elderly clients and currently owns a copywriting and resume company in the Tallahassee, Fl area. Steven has a special interest in helping new entrepreneurs get their businesses started successfully and learn the management skills needed to fulfill their career goals.


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