Go to any gym today and you will find a handful of seniors working out, although seniors are the ones who have time (and money) on their hands to work out.

It is perplexing to know why most seniors and elderly people avoid exercise, as many know the important link exercise has with good health!

Many senior citizens are content to take part in simple group exercises like tai chi or line dancing with friends, as once the exercise session ends, the longer hangout session begins at their favorite kopitiam.

Most of the elderly are more content to just remain sedentary in the confines of their home, although it is good to note that there is a gradual increase in the number of elderly people aged 70 and above who see the importance of exercising to maintain their health.

Whilst human interaction is important, research shows that seniors and the elderly do not get the proper exercise they should receive.

Seniors and the fast-growing elderly population are more prone to health conditions that can easily make them lose their independence and be burdened with escalating health care costs. Exercising is a way to lessen all this.

Common barriers seniors face to avoid exercising

Here are some common “barriers” that seniors say make them avoid exercising:

Self-confidence and self-consciousness: Apart from walking, many seniors lose confidence doing simple exercises when they find they can’t keep up the pace with their younger counterparts.

Seniors are aware that they look older and move slower than youngsters, which may lead to self-consciousness.

Injury: Seniors have a fear of falling or getting hurt more easily than their youthful counterparts. However, leading a sedentary lifestyle only makes matters worse; as a senior will be unprepared to react in a sudden situation.

Current health problems:  may limit or prevent seniors from exercising, as they think there is no exercise they can do safely without a chance of injury or increased pain.

Depression: Seniors, especially the elderly, need to make difficult adjustments in their lifestyle after the passing of loved ones. Depression sets in easily, leading some seniors to even lose the will to live.

Lack of support: Seniors and the elderly claim one major setback that prevents them exercising is a lack of support from family members who feel it is safer for them to just remain as they are.

So, is it beneficial for seniors and the elderly to exercise?

The answer is YES. It is important for the golden generation to exercise in a safe and proper way.

The human body moves in three planes of motion:

Sagittal plane – forwards and backwards. This is the most commonly used plane of motion as nearly everybody can move forwards and backwards comfortably.

Frontal plane – side to side. This plane of movement is important but with age, it is used less.

Transverse plane – rotational movements. With age, this plane of movement is used even less, and often compensated with Sagittal plane movements.

It is important to exercise in all three planes of movement, as it improves overall balance and tones up all muscles.

Having good balance lessens the chance of falling. Building strong muscles and improving reaction time with proper guided exercise can assist with breaking falls.

There are functional exercises that train seniors and the elderly various ways to improve balance and how to break a fall. There may still be some injury with a fall, but not as severe if one knows how to break a fall, i.e., “fall safely”.

Chronic conditions such as arthritis, blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis have shown improvement with these functional exercises.

One important fact to highlight is seniors and the elderly must check with their doctor on the types of exercise they can safely perform before jumping into an exercise program. One’s exercise limitations are based on individual ability.

What can we learn from seniors and elderly people who exercise?

Seniors and the elderly who exercise are generally:

  • more independent
  • with better balance and reaction time
  • happier with their improved quality of life
  • with a positive outlook towards life
  • with better overall health (fitter)
  • more attentive

To conclude: If you have seniors or elderly people or do know such people, do encourage them to exercise. To reiterate, seniors and the elderly must check with their doctors to get medical clearance before embarking on any type of exercise program.

Some fitness centers offer specialized exercises, whereby they work together with your doctor to come up with safe, tailor-made exercise programs for seniors and the elderly.

We hope today’s article has been informative, especially to our readers who have seniors and elderly at home. Do note that the contents of this article should not be taken as medical advice. Our readers are always advised to consult their doctors for proper medical information.

By Aaron
17th September 2020 20:30

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