There has been a dramatic shift in the distribution of the world’s population toward older adults. By 2030, 1 in 6 people will be 60 years or older. By 2050, the number of people who are 80 years or older are estimated to reach 426 million. With aging comes some geriatric health issues, like hearing loss, cataracts, osteoarthritis, diabetes, dementia, and geriatric syndromes resulting from frailty, urinary incontinence, falls, and pressure ulcers.
Regular exercise has proven to slow muscle aging and can delay the onset of 40+ chronic diseases. Seniors with a family history of health conditions can consider occupational therapy, which is a comprehensive approach to overcome physiological, cognitive and psychological limitations. Here are some exercises that can help seniors deal with geriatric issues.
#1 - Water Therapy Exercises
Water has a calming effect on people of all ages and builds natural resistance. Highly useful for people with joint pains, and arthritis problems, water aerobics helps in improving strength, flexibility, and balance. Standing water pushups, leg lifts, arm curls and jogging can do wonders in improving the strength of a senior.
#2 - Chair Yoga Therapy
Seniors finding it difficult to stand and balance should try chair yoga. This low-impact exercise form helps in improving muscle strength, mobility, flexibility, and balance. This form of exercise puts less stress on muscles and joints while providing excellent results in terms of balance and better mental health. Some common exercises that can be done sitting on a chair include overhead stretches, seated cat and cow stretches, and seated twists.
#3 - Tai-Chi
This ancient Chinese practice works to boost energy by focusing on muscle control, stability, balance and flexibility. Regular practice of this form of exercise not only reduces osteoarthritis-related pain, but also improves balance. The rate of injury-related falls in older and at-risk adults declines in the short term by 43% and 50%, respectively, if they follow the tai-chi practice.
#4 - Dumbbell Strength Training
Dumbbell exercises if done with proper precautions can help seniors to have better flexibility. An excellent form of strength training, these exercises help in alleviating the symptoms of osteoporosis, diabetes, and several other health issues.
#5 – Walking
One of the most popular and easy forms of exercise for all ages including seniors is walking. Regular walks not only strengthen muscles but also lower the risk of heart diseases, strokes, and other lifestyle diseases like diabetes. Seniors can choose to walk at a steady pace for longer periods or go for shorter walks a couple of times in a day.
#6 - Breathing Exercises
Breathing is not only essential for life but also affects our stamina, strength, and even mood. Shallow breathing can make a person sluggish while controlled breathing can boost lung functioning, aids in better digestion, and alleviates many other problems. Common breathing exercises include Diaphragmatic breathing and humming.
#7 – Cycling
A popular exercise that can be done both indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors, cycling involves the use of large muscles leading to improved blood flow. This non-impact activity is beneficial for the hearts and lungs and highly recommended for people looking for ways to deal with joint or muscle pain. Cycling not only slows the aging process thereby reducing the chances of falls but also improves mental health. However, choosing the right cycle and the best protective gear is important to avoid accidents and injuries.
These exercises can help seniors ward off or deal with a number of geriatric problems besides improving the balance and endurance. But choosing the right form of exercise is important for living a healthy and pain-free life. Customized therapy plans and exercise modules that take into account the medical condition of a senior yield long-lasting results.