As people age, it may become more difficult to do regular physical activity and activities for daily living. However, for optimal physical health into the golden years, exercise is a major factor.
What constitutes exercise?
The World Health Organization says that lack of adequate movement and exercise causes 3.2 million deaths annually for people over the age of 65.
This doesn’t only refer to a strong workout, although that is definitely beneficial. It refers simply to regular physical activity – movement associated with work activities, getting around, and performing chores around the house – cleaning, gardening and the like. The WHO recommends that people over the age of 65 get at least 150 minutes of movement each week, or 75 minutes of more strenuous workout. They also recommend muscle strengthening activity.
How does exercise help with activities for Daily Living?
A new study presented by MedUni Vienna in Austria finds that people over the age of 65 who exercise regularly perform activities for daily living, or ADLs, much more easily than those that don’t. The study covered 3,300 volunteers over the age of 65.
Professionals groups ADLs into two groups. Regular ADLs are simple functions – being able to feed one’s self, dressing, using a bathroom. Instrumental ADLs are a step above – being able to shop for food, personal hygiene, and being able to get around.
Thomas Dorner, president of the Austrian Society of Public Health and one of leaders of the study, says that “People who do the recommended units of exercise each week are three times more likely to be able to manage the ADLs and two times more likely to be able to perform the IADLs.” Only about a third of the study participants said that they perform the recommended muscle strengthening exercises, however.
Exercise promotes overall health and quality of life
The WHO also stresses the more well-known benefits of regular exercise for older people, who are more prone to heart disease and degeneration. Exercise highly promotes cardiovascular health and strong cognitive function as well as decreases the risks of diabetes and even depression.
What are the barriers to more adult exercise?
If someone wasn’t into fitness when he was younger, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get into shape as he ages. But even though someone can get away with it while young, the results will slow him down later on. If an older person is already slowing down, exercise will be difficult, and that will eventually affect his ability to complete activities for daily living.
Other factors contribute as well. An older person may not have access to walking areas, especially in inclement weather. Or he may not have access to transportation which would bring him to a gym or other area where he could exercise.
Some seniors may be eligible for exercise rehab, which they can access through a local facility. This program can give them the tools they need to implement an exercise routine into their daily or weekly schedule and can have far-reaching impacts.
At Sinai Post Acute Care, we offer exercise rehab programs to help keep seniors in shape and healthy.