Helping aging family members and friends can create myriad questions as to whether the helper is doing what is best for the senior in his or her life. For example, caregivers need to know what medical experts suggest is the correct amount of activity for elderly individuals. But how often and for how long should a senior exercise? And does it make any sense?
Is Exercising An Important Part Of Seniors’ Care?
Most people, if asked what the most important detail in a senior’s daily list of things to do is, would probably say “exercise.” The common wisdom is that walking, bending, and stretching keep aging bodies stronger and helps seniors with stability, confidence, and self-assuredness. The adage “use it or lose it” comes to mind.
Even though a helper may be fully aware that exercise is necessary, he or she is more interested in ensuring that workout programs offered are safe and carefully designed to keep seniors healthy, fit, and unharmed in any way. The types of exercise, the duration, and the timing of exercise are all paramount to caregivers.
Movement vs. Exercise
Walking to the mailbox or stretching when getting out of bed, says LaVona S. Traywick, Ph.D., an assistant professor of gerontology at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in Little Rock, are excellent ways to keep the body active and moving, but these kinds of activities should not be considered exercise. A workout includes participating in classes led by an experienced trainer such as aerobics, yoga, or working with weights. Both are important to seniors’ daily movements.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
Dr. Traywick explains that the current recommendation for time seniors should spend exercising per week is 150 minutes. But this amount of time can be broken down into 20 minutes a day for seven days a week or 30 minutes a day for seven days a week. Traywick suggests that this type of schedule encourages seniors to be active since the time can then easily be broken into 10-minute increments a day.
What Are The Exercise Types Recommended For Seniors?
• Endurance activities, such as dancing, jogging, walking, and playing tennis.
• Strength training with resistance bands, free weights, and other equipment.
• Balance training based on strengthening the back and legs.
• Exercises for flexibility accomplished through the calf, thigh, shoulder, and upper arm stretching.
It is important to note that, during the strength training, the focus on specific muscle groups should alternate, allowing each muscle group a “rest day” between workout sessions.
Organizing exercise routines and times are much smoother for seniors in 10-minute segments of activity each day. It is paramount, when helping seniors, to find the activity level, time, and motivation to keep loved ones at peak performance.