April 18, 2012

Welcome back to the Griswold Blog! This week, we’re jumping up and down about physical wellness for the elderly. Leading an active lifestyle is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for the seniors of society.

This post is all about deflating the fallacies about keeping fit in old age. So let’s get moving and kick the facts into high gear:

FITNESS FALLACY #1: It’s too late for an older person to start exercising; what’s the point? 

FITNESS FACT #1: From improving mood and memory to preventing slips and falls, keeping active is not just important for the elderly — it’s crucial! Physical exercise also helps lower the risk for conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

FITNESS FALLACY #2: Elderly people are too frail to exercise; they should save their strength and rest.

FITNESS FACT #2: Frailty and fatigue are actually increased by a sedentary lifestyle and decreased by low-impact exercise, such as daily chores, stretching or leisurely outdoor activities. Inactivity also diminishes independence, inhibiting the ability for the elderly do to things on their own, and leads to more hospitalizations, doctors’ visits and prescriptions for illnesses or pain.

FITNESS FALLACY #3: Seniors shouldn’t move around too much; they may slip and fall!

FITNESS FACT #3: This could not be further from the truth. Yes, falling accidents are a legitimate concern for the elderly, but it’s physical activity that prevents them! By improving strength, balance and coordination, exercise keeps the elderly off the floor – unless they’re doing yoga poses during commercial breaks, of course.

FITNESS FALLACY #4: Well, my loved one is chair-bound, so exercise doesn’t apply.

FITNESS FACT #4: There are so many ways to exercise while sitting down. Using light weights and resistance bands, stretching and doing chair aerobics increase range of motion, promote heart health and build muscle. In other words, exercising in a chair is still exercise and your loved one still gets the whole-body benefits without strain or pain. Click here for a very thorough manual, adapted from the National Institute of Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on fitness tips and exercise ideas for the chair-bound! There are also a wealth of pool therapy opportunities out there — check your local senior center or fitness club for classes dedicated to chair-bound seniors.

We’ll end this post with a relaxing savasana and a heartwarming “Namaste” — check back soon or subscribe for our next post on the wonderful world of yoga!