Saturday, September 2, 2017

Physical activity is essential for the elderly too

·         Lack of exercise can reduce mobility and increase the risk of falls
·         Important to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise regime

New Delhi, 01 September 2017: A recent study has found that older people who watch TV for more than five hours a day and indulge in physical activity for less than three hours a week stand the chances of acquiring walking difficulties.[1] Such individuals had a 65% greater risk of developing mobility disability compared to those who watched TV for a lesser duration. According to the IMA, prolonged periods of inactivity in those above the age of 50 can have negative effects on their health.
Older adults can accrue many benefits from physical activity. Apart from developing cardiorespiratory endurance, physical activity can help them to strengthen their muscles, reduce risk of falls, and improve the ability to perform daily activities. In addition, exercise can also help ward off depression and keeps the mind sharp.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “There are many misconceptions associated with physical activity in old age such as older people are frail and physically weak; the body doesn’t need as much physical activity in old age; and exercising can be hazardous and cause injury. It is important to understand that it is never too late to get fit. The human body responds to exercise at any age and has many associated benefits. Most people can begin with light activity such as walking. However, those who are above the age of 40, obese, or suffering from a chronic illness should consult a doctor before starting with any new exercise routine or physical activity.”

Elders who are physically disabled or wheelchair bound can also indulge in some forms of physical activity. Some examples are lifting light weights, stretching, chair aerobics, chair yoga, and chair Tai Chi. This can help them increase their range of motion as also improve muscle tone and flexibility.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “The IMA initiative ‘Move, Move and Move’ is a campaign to increase awareness about the benefits of physical activity and to encourage people to be more active at work and cut down on sedentary time. Though this campaign is not aimed at the elderly specifically, it definitely is a step towards creating awareness about physical activity leading up to old age.”

Some exercising tips for the elderly are given below.

  • Choose activities that you find interesting. Exercise should be fun to do rather than becoming a chore.
  • Exercise with friends. Gather a group of like-minded seniors to make the process more enjoyable.
  • Choose comfortable clothing including shoes and safety gear.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Include safe and comfortable activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, yoga.
  • Do some light weight training to improve muscle strength and endurance.
  • Start slow and gradually make small increments. Keep track of your progress for motivation to do better.  
  • Don’t overdo exercise. Take a break, if you feel any pain.
  • Be aware of any warning signs such as chest pain, difficult in breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, fatigue. Consult your doctor.

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