Did you know that as we age, we can lose up to three to five percent of our muscle mass every ten years? Known as age-related sarcopenia, it represents an inevitable part of getting older.
Among the least active Americans, it marks the precursor to other problems such as frailty, fall risks, and loss of mobility. Symptoms of sarcopenia include decreased stamina and greater weakness. Over time, it can even interfere with daily activities.
What's the best way to combat the effects of sarcopenia as we age? A regular exercise regimen that includes strength training or resistance training.
Regular physical activity not only helps with the maintenance of muscle mass but it improves the conversion of protein into energy among older adults.
And the best part? When an aging loved one starts a new exercise habit, such as active aquatics, they can expect to see results in as little as two weeks. Read on to find out more.
The Many Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
Do you want to help your loved one fight the effects of aging and get that spring back in their step? Then, regular physical activity represents their best bet.
Studies have found that seniors who exercise often enjoy better health, greater independence, and a more positive outlook.
For example, seniors who work out consistently speed up their wound healing time by 25 percent. That's 10 days faster than their less active peers!
Researchers have also learned that seniors who exercise report a higher quality of life and long-term psychological benefits. It turns out, exercise is one of the most potent ways to combat the symptoms of depression and cultivate happiness.
Besides a happier life, exercise ensures a longer one. Life expectancy among active seniors proves higher. These individuals also stay independent longer, which equates to a better overall quality of life.
And seniors don't have to participate in intense or extreme exercises to enjoy the benefits. Consistency outperforms intensity when it comes to physical activity.
It's as simple as searching "senior aerobics near me" or "senior yoga classes near me" to get your loved one started on the road to a happier, healthier, longer life.
Decrease in Fall Risk
Do you know what the leading cause of injury and death among seniors is? Falling down.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 25 percent of the elderly population in the US was involved in a life-changing fall.
While preventative measures such as decluttering their house and providing the proper prescriptive eyewear help, don't stop there. Encourage your loved one to get more active and increase their fitness level.
Exercises that include resistance activities equate with better functional balance and reach. The result? More independence and freedom over the long haul.
Combat Chronic Disease
Besides falls, seniors also prove more vulnerable to chronic diseases over time. These include:
- Heart disease
Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle remains their best strategy for avoiding these chronic diseases as well as managing their symptoms.
And there are plenty of other great benefits of exercising, too. From sleeping better at night to stress reduction, more daytime energy to an effective means of maintaining their weight, your loved one will enjoy an improved quality of life.
How to Get Active
In essence, regular exercise is like finding the fountain of youth. It'll rejuvenate their body while building strength and stamina. They'll also reverse some of the natural effects of sarcopenia, all while relieving stress and gaining confidence.
That said, how should seniors approach exercise to maximize these positive outcomes? We advise starting with a free assessment to learn more about your loved one's unique physical fitness needs.
As they move into a new exercise routine, it should address four key areas:
Each of these areas represents an important aspect of independent living. Let's take a quick look at why.
Strength-building activities help keep muscles strong and healthy. They ensure that simple daily activities such as lifting grandchildren, walking through the park, or getting up out of a chair stay easy.
What's more, strength training will help your loved one stay on their feet and avoid the risks associated with falling. The stronger their leg and hip muscles, the less likely they are to take a tumble.
Balance exercises also prove crucial to staying independent. And seniors don't have to start big to see results. Activities as simple as the heel-to-toe walk or standing on one foot can help them regain functional balance.
Classes such as active aquatics and yoga for seniors also help immensely with the maintenance of balance. And the great part is these classes prove fun and let the elderly stay both active and social.
Besides strength building and balance activities, seniors should stay active by stretching. It'll help them remain limber and flexible, which has many positive benefits for the entire body, from pain relief to improved balance.
When muscles stay lean and loose, older people counteract the stiffness and soreness of aging. This will not only make them appear younger, but it'll further support healthy posture.
Increase "Staying Power"
Finally, endurance activities help seniors take advantage of every day. How? By providing them with the energy that they need to power through.
And like the other exercises listed above, a simple 30-minute routine can put them on the path to feeling fit.
They'll love the extra "staying power" that they gain. They'll also enjoy a newfound confidence and sense of purpose through positive movement.
How to Get Moving
Anytime seniors start a new exercise routine, they should consult with their medical doctor. This doctor should be able to provide them with the advice that they need to stay safe.
As they begin a healthy exercise regime, here are a few more things seniors should keep in mind. They should always start slowly. This proves particularly true for those who have been inactive for an extended time.
They should remember to give their body the chance to adjust to a new routine and build up over time. Remember consistency, rather than intensity, is the key. Working out too hard can lead to injuries, more serious medical conditions, and burn out.
Also, remind your loved one not to hold their breath while exercising. Why? This can lead to a spike in blood pressure that's unhealthy for their body.
Instead, they should remember to breathe out as they flex their muscle and then breathe in as they relax it.
Fitness classes such as active aquatics and yoga build breathing exercises into their routines. So, they're a great place to get started.
It's also important that you loved one always warms up their muscles before commencing any exercise routine. That way, they'll avoid pulled muscles or other injuries. An easy warm-up consists of light movements such as arm pumping.
Finally, seniors should know to bend forward from the hips rather than the waist when stretching. They should keep their core active, too, so that their lower back stays protected.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Besides the tips above, help your loved one purchase the proper equipment based on the activity that they decide to take up. For example, get walking shoes or jogging shoes if they're going to start doing laps around the neighborhood.
Before hopping on a bike, make sure they're wearing a helmet. And for a class such as active aquatics or yoga, they'll need to purchase the right attire (e.g. bathing suit, yoga clothes).
In general, seniors need to drink plenty of liquids while they're working out to stay hydrated. Of course, if they're on a limited beverage intake plan from their doctor, they should follow his or her recommendations.
And if they've been inactive for quite some time and need help building up the stamina and strength for daily activities, ask your doctor to refer a home health nurse to work with them.
Why Active Aquatics Work
One of the best exercises for elderly individuals remains active aquatics. Why? Because it helps seniors maintain their health at a functional, comfortable level in a low-impact, fun environment.
What many people don't realize is that aquatics classes involve resistance training. So, seniors can work on building their muscle mass without worrying about stressing or tearing ligaments, joints, tendons, and bones.
Because of the water, they unload the stress on joints while still building strength through water resistance. As their joints move, they are bathed in synovial fluid, which is therapeutic.
Exercisers who've spent years avoiding basic activities because of joint and muscle pain prove pleasantly surprised when they get in the pool for the first time. What's more, the warm water helps to relax and restore their tight muscles.
Aquatic exercises help individuals see better results than their land equivalents. The buoyancy of the water also allows older people to engage in activities they may not have been able to do for years on land.
The result? Increased confidence and better physical performance over time.
How Do Water Aerobics Work?
Let's take an exercise such as a treadmill. On land, the pressure on joints from this activity can lead to discomfort and even injuries. But in a pool, an individual reduces their body weight by up to 90 percent depending on the water depth.
This proves crucial to providing them with the opportunity to get active without feeling plagued by chronic aches and pains. What's more, reducing the weight the body bears will allow them to gain strength and endurance at a manageable pace.
When a body floats in water, the effects of gravity get counterbalanced. In essence, water proves a crucial therapeutic tool when it comes to an exercise routine for those who are older or who have sustained injuries.
A warm aquatic environment means improved circulation and a reduction of joint inflammation. These positive benefits, along with getting moving, will help seniors better manage chronic pain associated with injury and inactivity.
But the buoyancy of the water and its temperature aren't the only two advantages of this form of exercise. Water-resistance also offers a mild way of improving muscle strength and stamina.
Moving through a pool proves more taxing than moving through air. As a result, simple exercises can help improve range of motion and strength without the risk of falling.
Give Aquatics Training a Try
Water aerobics comes with inspiring results. Many patients who consistently exercise in the water see significant functional improvements in a short amount of time.
With increased strength, better balance, greater flexibility, and improved health, water exercisers gain their lives back. They prove better able to care for themselves and can live independently for many more years.
But the benefits of this activity don't just stop with physical aspects. Classes allow seniors to interact with one another forming new friendships and supporting each other through the process of improvement and rehabilitation.
Because of the nature of exercising in water, specific muscle groups can easily be targeted. Examples of exercises include walking around the pool or lifting one leg at a time.
In class, seniors may also be instructed to move sideways or backward depending on their strength and balance needs. Resistance jets can even be used to help exercisers gain greater strength while doing certain activities.
The result? A fun, effective workout that can be custom-tailored to your loved one's therapeutic needs.
As you can see, the impacts of this activity prove positive and plentiful. But perhaps the most important part remains the ability to work out at their own pace. This lets seniors improve their life and health one exercise at a time.
Ready to Help Your Loved One Lead Their Best Life?
Are you ready to help your loved one gain control over their life again? Do you want to support their independence and confidence? Then, why not encourage them to give active aquatics a try?
No matter how long it's been since they've worked out regularly, they'll see amazing results with exercise.
What's more, we can guide your loved one through the process of regaining strength and stamina so that they're ready to meet the challenges of life.
The right skilled holistic health care approach can put your family member on the fast track to renewed vigor and greater independence. Contact us today so that your loved one can start pursuing their best life now.