You Need to Exercise! What This Classic Doctor’s Prescription Really Means for Seniors…
The doctor tells elderly patients, “You need to exercise.” This is all they are told.
It is the classic prescription – yes - but that is where the message stops, prompting misguided patients to enrol in classes at typical gyms with trainers who are inexperienced in working with the elderly. One of the most common mistakes inexperienced trainers may make is to have elderly clients perform exercises that bring a person into a forward, slouched position, such as sit-ups and most yoga moves - some of the most hazardous exercises possible for increasing the risk of fracture.
Exercising or simply living an active lifestyle is important at any age. It is what keeps bodies healthy and able to perform tasks for daily living. With age, this becomes more apparent and critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and performing daily activities that were once taken for granted in younger years. Being active also allows one to cope better with accidental falls. Having the strength and coordination that comes with regular physical activity will allow one to properly brace or perhaps catch oneself in a way that results in a lower risk of injury. Serious injuries can be partially avoided, by not falling as dead weight – unfortunately, a common occurrence for the elderly.
Most seniors rely on walking, a commonly prescribed exercise, good for loading the hip bones and maintaining cardiovascular health. However, if no work is done on strengthening the many other major muscle groups of the body, slouches in the thoracic spine area may develop leading to possible compression fractures. Furthermore, walking on a flat surface does not fully engage the major muscles of the legs (i.e., quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors). Eventually over time many seniors will experience balance issues increasing the risk of falls, not to mention difficulty in climbing stairs due to inadequate leg strength.
When it comes to staying healthy and maintaining strength in later years, professionally guided exercises by a trainer specializing in senior health and fitness are critical to the successful prevention of injuries or worsening existing ailments. Resistance exercises, lifting weights and core strengthening (of the abdominal and lumbar muscles) are all necessary in maintaining an active lifestyle as people enter their golden years – be it gardening, playing with grandchildren, caring for pets etc.
Exercise is a staple for a good and healthy life. Exercise transforms and raises the quality of life.
It is never too late to start as the benefits of exercise are very real and motivating, regardless of age.
Anthony Crescenzi, BA (Hons), Kine.
Vintage Fitness is an in-home personal training company in Toronto, Canada. We specialize in energizing the lives of people over 50 with exercise.
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