Elderly Health
Physical Activity for Older Adults
 

​Physical activity:

Along with eating healthy food, physical activity is deemed to be among the most substantial factors necessary for protection from heart diseases and improving health conditions. Physical activity stimulates the heart pulse, strengthens the cardiac muscle (aka myocardium), and improves breathing. Physical activity is meant any body movement, in which muscles are involved, and which requires energy. There are several forms and types of physical activity, including walking, climbing stairs, etc. 

What type of exercise is best for older persons?
The best exercise is the exercise you enjoy the most. A person who enjoys exercise is encouraged to perform it regularly. An older adult will reap the benefits of exercise when it becomes a part of his or her daily routine. However, there are several types of exercise that an older adult could try. The following are some of those exercises.
  • Aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises move the big muscles, like the arm and leg muscles. They are important for maintaining the health of the heart and lungs, and improves the blood circulation. Besides, they help lose weight, by boosting the calorie-burning rate. Aerobic exercises include:
    • Walking
    • Household activities (e.g. tree trimming);
    • Dance workout
    • Swimming
    • Cycling
    • Tennis or badminton
    • Running
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises (resistance training): Resistance training exercises improve and strengthen muscles, and boosts muscle endurance. They involve weightlifting. These exercises help older adults perform their daily activities (e.g. climbing stairs, gardening, etc.) There are several modes of resistance training exercises, including:
    • Watching and following free-weight tutorials;
    • Using machines at gymnasiums.
  • Balance exercises: Balance exercises help reduce the risk of falling. They include: 
    • Single-leg stance (both legs, a few seconds each);
    • Heel-to-toe walking in a straight line;
    • Sitting on a chair, and then standing, repetitively, without using your hands for leaning.
  • Flexibility exercises: Also known as stretches, flexibility exercises help stretch the muscles and boost their flexibility. Maintaining flexibility helps relieve sore muscles, prevent joint stiffness, and reduce anxiety. Yoga and stretches are recommended to maintain flexibility at an older age.
Tips for being for active:
  • Choose an activity you like, and perform it for a preset short period of time (e.g. walking three times a week, 10 minutes each). The frequency, duration, and intensity may then be increased gradually.
  • Starting walking in a group.
Safety guidelines:
Physical activity is safe for almost everyone. However, the following safety guidelines need to be considered:
  • Ask the doctor about the best way to safely increase the amount or intensity of exercise;
  • Exercise in a safe place; 
  • Spend some time warming up before walking;
  • Increase the level of physical activity gradually;
  • Make sure you put on a sturdy and comfortable pair of shoes;
  • Stop immediately when you feel pain, dizziness or shortness of breath;
  • Drink water;
  • Check the weather beforehand.
The recommended amount of physical activity:
  • Older adults should do 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.
  • Older adults with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week. 
  • As for muscle-strengthening exercises, they should be done two or more times per week.
Why physical activity is necessary?
  • To decrease the level of blood pressure and cholesterol;
  • To reduce the risk of heart diseases and strokes;
  • To burn calories, and hence help lose and maintain weight;
  • To boost energy, to better perform the daily activities;
  • To sleep better;
  • To relieve anxiety;
  • To strengthen the heart, and improve the blood circulation;
  • To strengthen muscles and bones;
  • To maintain joint flexibility;
  • To reduce the risk of depression. 

Clinical Education General Department
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