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With research continuing to assert exercise’s correlation to longevity and overall happiness, it’s vital that we help our seniors to stay physically active. Exercise helps to defend against osteoporosis, muscle deterioration, and even cancer – as well as yielding myriad benefits for the bodies and minds of people who are ageing. Here are 5 ways for you to encourage the elders in your life to get moving.
Gardening is an effective form of physical exercise and can be a much-needed hobby for seniors who find too much time on their hands after retirement. Studies have found that regular gardening can decrease the risk of developing dementia by nearly 40%, as well as contributing to a significant reduction in depression.
Outdoor gardening can be a fun and easy edition to the daily routine of seniors – allowing them to get fresh air and their daily dose of vitamin D. It’s a great way for them to pass the time while also tidying up their yards at the same time.
For seniors that are unable to bend down or pick weeds from the ground, vertical planters are a great solution. Allowing them to stand while gardening, with the added benefit or being visually and stylistically appealing. For those that prefer to do their gardening on the ground, outdoor floor plants allow ease of access while reducing the amount of mess that comes along with gardening at the same time. In hotter weather ensure that they pick the coolest time of day to avoid sunburns and heatstroke – early morning or late evening would the optimal.
Encourage the “exercise snap”
Having a less physically active life than in their younger years is part and parcel for most seniors. However, a fun trick is to break long stints of sitting with exercise snaps: 5-minute bursts of activity every hour or so, which will stimulate the blood and get the heart rate up. For example, if the older person happens to be chopping veggies in the kitchen while you’re around, recommend that they try some calf raises at the same time. Off to fetch something from the other side of the house? Suggest that they dance down the passage on the way!
If they prefer the outdoors a short walk around the block is a great option – allowing them to get fresh air while exercising. For the warmer months, swimming at the community pool is a great way for seniors to get exercise while socialising at the same time. They can have a chat with their friends while enjoying the water. Swimming has been shown to have many benefits, including improving muscle strength, reducing blood pressure, joint pain and the effects of arthritis.
Help them get the proper resources
Sometimes, an older person’s reluctance to get active isn’t due to any inherent distaste for exercise, but rather to the lack of proper sports clothes or gear. To overcome this, you can take care of the registration for club memberships or help them make appointments with personal trainers. Hiring a personal trainer is a great way to ensure that they safely exercise and overexert themselves.
Help them find them the right exercise gear. Ensure your loved one’s exercise shoes are slip-resistant and optimal for the environment they will be exercising in. Help them invest in some good-quality, breathable exercise clothing, with no loose fabric, to keep them comfortable. This will help reduce injuries and avoid them from feeling too hot while exercising.
Take them to exercise classes or clubs
Tennis, yoga, bowls, badminton and yachting are all great activities which offer the opportunity for regular bursts of physical exercise and come with the social benefit of being immersed in a class or club environment with like-minded people.
Since transport is the biggest obstacle keeping older people from exercising out of the home, you can help your elderly friend or relative by making yourself or another car-driver available for an hour a week to take them to and from the activity of their choice.
Schedule regular walks
Loneliness is a common underlying cause of seniors’ sedentary lifestyles. If you live nearby, try to organise a monthly, fortnightly, or weekly regular time just to go for a walk with your older relative or friend. If you are unable to visit frequently, encourage them to schedule walks with friends and family that are nearby. This gives your elderly loved one an entry on their calendar to look forward to.