You know what they say about bodies at rest. . . beyond the adage, there may be a lot of truth in that statement. More and more scientific research is pointing to a direct link between physical fitness and longevity in older adults. In addition, multiple studies have shown that increasing physical activity can have a tremendous effect on a loved one’s mental abilities—increasing memory, decreasing the risk of depression, and helping hold back the onset of Alzheimer’s. But one of the trickiest parts of helping aging individuals stay mobile and physically fit is finding exercises for the elderly that are both safe and easy to do.
One recent study conducted by researchers from Florida Atlantic University shows that Chair Yoga may be a wonderful exercise for elderly folks—even those with arthritis pain.
What is Chair Yoga?
It is exactly what it sounds like—yoga that’s practiced while seated in a chair. This type of exercise for elderly individuals allows them to strengthen their upper body and core muscle groups from the relative safety and security of a seated position.
Chair Yoga allows elderly individuals to overcome three of the biggest obstacles to ongoing physical fitness:
- Lower limb pain (usually caused by osteoarthritis)
- Instability (usually caused by loss of muscle tone)
- Imbalance (caused by any number of factors including medications)
The (Amazing) Results
Sixty-six elderly individuals living in retirement communities in Florida were treated to an eight-week Chair Yoga class. Their relative conditions (based on self-report) were recorded both at the outset and after the completion of the course. Researchers discovered that after the eight weeks the vast majority of the individuals reported less pain (associated with osteoarthritis), as well as significant improvements in walking speed and a decrease in overall fatigue.
That’s good news for the body and the mind!
The Mental Benefits of Exercises for Elderly Individuals
Researchers from Boston University recently concluded that physical activity in older individuals can actually stave off cognitive decline, memory problems, and other mental symptoms associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. But this study went far beyond self-report and traditional question/answer testing. Researchers actually used MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to watch what was happening in an individual’s brain as they were tested.
Older individuals who were deemed to be more fit (based on activity levels as well as physical benchmarks like the efficiency with which oxygen was processed inside the body) “tested” better but also show significantly more brain activity in patterns more closely matching those exhibited by people between the ages of 18 and 31.
Exercise for Elderly Individuals is Essential
As these two studies show, staying active can help aging individuals live pain-free and reduce their risk for mental decline. But Chair Yoga is just one of the excellent exercises for the elderly individuals in your life. Speak with your loved one’s medical provider or a physical therapist to learn more.
Second Family Home Care provides experienced in-home caregivers in the Plano, Texas area. We can offer as little as 12 hours per week up to 24/7 care. Our excellent caregivers offer safety and security to aging loved ones living at home and can give family caregivers a much-needed break. If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer, call (972) 347-0700 today to schedule your free consultation.
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