Exercise and Movement is Medicine - SENIORS
If you believe that medicine will save your life, why do you
not believe exercise or movement will?
This topic is a common discussion we have with many folks, especially those over 70years of age. The idea that being sedentary, meaning moving less than 10% of your day which is a lot, can kill you is a stretch. However, not being able to move is a difficult thing for many elderly people. We cannot understate the value for those who may, with a little assistance and professional guidance, move better and increase mobility.
Here are some very important reasons why exercise and movement is so important for seniors in particular. AND why intervention is helpful when mobility is difficult.
1. Falls Prevention and reflex maintenance
It may come as no surprise that falls are the number one cause of fractures, trauma, loss of independence, injury and even death. Due to the falls, secondary infections during hospital admission and/or surgical intervention rank high as well. Regardless of whether or not an injury occurs with the fall, a downward spiral of fear and regressions occur. Much of this is both preventable and recoverable. Physical factors such as medications, posture/spine control, reflexes, bone and muscle strength, energy(diet) and cardiorespiratory fitness play a role in falls risk. Environmental factors such as lighting, rugs, footwear, stairs etc play an important part in the risk as well. The main point here is; there is much we can do to improve one's mobility and ability and provide assessment to move forward positively. Expectations for improvement need to be set regardless of the situation!
Exercise detoxifies the body of depressive chemicals, especially under stress. Fear is stress, and many elders live in fear of most things physical. ie the stairs, the garden, the ice, lifting, walking, riding etc. Alleviation of stress can be attained from simply moving often. Allthough it is best done prescriptively in order to consider abilities and proper goal setting. Researchers have shown that during exercise muscles begin to act like the liver or kidneys and produce an enzyme which clears out a molecule linked to depression. This 'clear out' would also apply for skin breathing as in sweating, and helping to purge out harmful toxins that build up in the body. Not moving enough can therefore create depression and poor energy due to the unreleased toxins.
3. Joint strength and maintenance
Avoiding movement or exercise due to joint pain is a common and growing problem especially for the senior population. Joint pain often stems from osteoarthritis. BUT the very prevention for this is prescriptive exercise! Increasing your range of motion, joint strength and endurance of the muscles can significantly reduce the amount of swelling and pain from osteoarthritis. Once your joint 'turns the corner' on the inflammation, it can start to improve!
These are but a few solid reasons why exercise is medicine for the body. I hope that you will prescribe it for you or a family member.