Whatever your age, it’s never too late to get active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactivity increases with age and the loss of strength and stamina, often attributed to aging, is partly due to reduced activity. The CDC reports that by age 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women engage in no physical activity.
There are numerous benefits to becoming physically active as a senior of any age. Not only does exercise help maintain the ability to live independently and reduce the risk of falling, but it also reduces the risk of dying from heart diseases and certain cancers. Exercise also helps control swelling and pain associated with arthritis. While exercise can do wonders for physical health, it can also improve and maintain mental health.
Tips For Staying Safe During Physical Activity
Whether you are already an active senior or wish to become more physically active, your safety is important. Here are some tips to staying safe while staying active:
- Take it Slow: If you’re interested in increasing your level of activity (or you want to make significant changes in your current routine), but haven’t been active in awhile, it’s important to start out slow. By starting out slowly, you’re less likely to sustain an injury or overdue it right away. Experts recommend starting with short intervals, 5 to 10 minutes, of moderate activity and slowly build up.
- Always Consult With Your Doctor: Every workout program comes with a warning to speak with a medical professional before starting the program. The warning is not supposed to be viewed as a mere suggestion, but rather to be taken seriously. If you are at high risk for heart disease, are diabetic, obese, smoke, or have any other health concerns, you should always check first with your doctor before exercises. Other reasons to check first include: new or undiagnosed symptoms, chest pain, or heart beat irregularities.
- Choose Activities Best Suited for You: There are plenty of types of exercise that you can try. Whether you choose yoga, water aerobics, pickleball, or weight lifting, it’s important to know how to properly engage in the activity. For instance, if you fail to follow the directions on a weight machine or you aren’t sure what to do, your chances of being injured are greater.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to find an exercise you can do all year round or a few you
can participate in throughout the year. For example, walking is a great exercise which can be done indoors and outdoors. It can also be started out slowly and at shorter intervals, but can be easily adjusted for increased activity. For safety while walking, it’s a good idea to walk in an area that has a smooth and soft surface, and is well-lighted. It is also wise to avoid areas that intersect with traffic.
In addition to staying well-hydrated during your exercise, it’s important to wear comfortable clothing and wear appropriate shoes for the activity. If you begin to experience any pain or discomfort while exercising, consult with your doctor right away.
We grow up and we move out, leaving our parents to spend the rest of their lives alone. From time to time, we may surprise them with a visit, a nice chat and maybe a lunch or two. But what’s going on with them when there’s no one to take care of them? Their bodies weaken and their senses may not be as sharp, making them more prone to accidents in their homes than the rest of us. Falling, accidental fires, poisoning, and a number of other dangerous scenarios are preventable. It is important that you make sure that your elderly loved ones can maintain their independence, while staying out of harm’s way.
Causes of Injury
The majority of accidents are from accidental falls. Most of them occur on the stairs of their home, or places where the floor is slippery, which tends to be the kitchen and bathroom. Aside from mobile falls, static ones can happen as well; these are usually falls from a bed or a chair. Any of these falls can result in fractures that require hospitalization. Studies show that one of five falls among elderly women result in such a scenario. The second biggest cause for injuries and fatalities are fire related accidents. Reasons for this are poor mobility, older equipment and appliances in their homes, and a decline in their sense of smell. The main sources causing the fires are household items such as: candles, electric blankets, heaters and cookers. Another concerning cause of accidents is accidental poisoning. Poisoning is mostly related to improper use of medication among the elderly. This can be due to difficulty reading the prescription instructions or not understanding the dosage. Accidental poisoning can also be from exposure to dangerous gases (pipeline gas and carbon monoxide).
There are certain ways to help prevent accidents among the elderly. Regular visits to the homes of your elderly loved ones can help assess the conditions that they are living in. Regarding falls, it is important that there are no items left on the stairs or other common areas that can become a potential tripping hazard. The stairs should be properly maintained and rugs should be avoided, especially those with repetitive patterns that can trick the eyes. All rooms and hallways should have proper lighting systems and dry floors. Preventing fires can be achieved by not smoking in the home. Electric blankets need to have regular maintenance, and drying clothes on heaters should be avoided. Furthermore, homes should always be equipped with smoke detectors and fireguards. Proper use of medications can prevent medicine related poisonings. It is important that your elderly loved one knows which medication they should be taking, in what dosage and how often. Reminding them regularly can be very helpful. Maintenance and regular checkups of all devices in the home is also necessary.
When is the Time for Daily Assistance?
A time may come when the elderly just aren’t able to take care of themselves anymore, and their safety requires constant assistance. There are some identifiable habits and behaviors which indicate the need of assistance. This can include constant and frequent trips and falls around the house or trouble moving around their own home. Accidents regarding home appliances and improper use (forgetting to turn off the stove) can signal that it is time for help. In case the person is a smoker, burn holes on their clothes or furniture is another indicator that assistance and supervision is needed. Once assistance is necessary, it is essential to find help as quickly as possible.
Does your elderly loved one live alone? How do you assure their safety?
No two injuries are alike, which means that the path to recovery can be different for everyone, especially for seniors. Post-injury exercise is a common denominator, however, and one that many doctors promote to aid in rehabilitation. But, which exercises are best for which types of injuries? Just as important, are there certain exercises that may cause more harm than good? Here is a look at three common types of injuries, and exercises that are beneficial and detrimental for each.
Knee injuries are one of the most common types of sports-related injuries. A key to preventing additional injury when nursing your knee back to health is to avoid bending your leg so far that the knee extends past the foot. Partial squats and side lying leg lifts (both done without weights), step ups (using a low bench or stepper), and straight leg raises are just a few of the common exercises recommended to strengthen and help rehabilitate knees post-injury. However, lunges, deep squats, running, and other exercises that jar the knees should be avoided.
Joint injuries can include those involving the knee, but they can also develop from a twisted ankle, overextended elbow, or strained or sprained wrist. Strains are common and occur when a ligament is stretched or torn, so a joint injury can occur as a result of anything from participating in a sport to being involved in a work-related accident or a vehicle collision. However the injury develops, though, there are exercises that can help rebuild strength and relieve the pain in the impacted joints.
Swimming is considered to be one of the best exercises for joint injuries. The water absorbs much of the body’s stress, allowing for more flexibility and endurance. In addition, other low impact exercises, including yoga, walking, stretching, and bicycling are also recommended. Of course, the specific exercise chosen will depend on the area injured, as well as your doctor’s guidance. But, exercises to avoid while recovering from joint injuries include all high impact workouts, such as running, and even jogging.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are an estimated 12,500 new spinal cord injuries reported in the United States every year. Also, spinal cord injuries (SCI) greatly lower life expectancy, particularly during the first year post-injury, and the mortality rate increases with the severity of the injury. Fortunately, those who have suffered from a SCI can increase their chances at longevity and an improved quality of life by actively engaging in rehabilitative exercises, which is part of the seven step recovery process.
Since the spine is such a critical component of our physical functionality, it’s imperative that any exercise program be cleared with your doctor beforehand. Often, exercises are done under the care of a physical therapist to ensure they’re being performed properly, but typically, SCI exercises include those that help improve spine movement and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. For example, certain low impact stretches, the use of a stationary bicycle, or even swimming may be prescribed. Exercises to avoid include any that cause strain on the back, such as weightlifting.
Regardless of the location or severity of the injury, you should not experience enduring pain while exercising. If you do, you could exacerbate the problem, so stop and consult your doctor. After all, the goal of including exercise as part of your post-injury regimen is to rehabilitate the injured area. Exercise can be essential to the recovery process but, as with all exercise programs, consult your doctor before you begin, especially if you’ve suffered an injury.