Exercise has many health benefits for people of all ages – adults, children, even babies need exercise to support physical and cognitive function and strength. In the elderly, aerobic and resistance training alike are proven to reduce the risk of heart problems, prevent falls, and improve cognitive function. From lowering blood pressure to reducing joint inflammation and improving balance, the effects of exercise for seniors are well documented. Exercise is also positively linked with social engagement and mental health. Here are a few summertime fitness ideas for Mom or Dad to enjoy:
Cool Off With Swimming
Swimming is an ideal exercise for seniors because it is a low-impact activity and does not put stress on the bones and joints. In fact, the sensation of floating in the water can help relieve muscle and joint pain. In addition to open swims at various public pools throughout the city, the City of Ottawa runs Aquafitness programs – contact your nearest community pool for schedule information. Aqua-Lite is a perfect low-impact workout for seniors and combines swimming with strength training and endurance training.
You can expect to burn about 125-300 calories an hour walking, depending on your speed and weight. If Mom and Dad are able, walking is a highly beneficial activity that reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, joint pain, and heart problems. In Ottawa we are so fortunate to have a variety of scenic walking paths, including picturesque paths that run along the Rideau Canal, Rideau River, and Ottawa River. Nordic walking (also known as urban polling) is an increasingly popular choice for seniors as it increases cardio but reduces impact when walking. If you love walking but can’t stand the sun, most malls in Ottawa run mall walking groups where you can socialize and get the benefits of exercise in a comfortable, air-conditioned environment. If Mom or Dad uses a wheelchair, wheeling around provides an upper-body workout and cardiovascular training.
Stretching is the wonder exercise. It helps to awaken your body in the morning and relax at night. It gets you prepared for the day or activity ahead and reduces the risk of injury. Follow a stretching routine and hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds. Almost all stretches can be adapted around mobility limitations and done from a seated position. Consult your doctor or physical therapist to design a custom stretching routine.
Summertime Fitness Tips
As much as we love the return of the summer sun, beware of the risks of heat stress and heat stroke. Overexposure and overheating can lead to weakness, dizziness, nausea, and even fainting. Also keep in mind that some medications can cause heat sensititives. For this reason, outdoor exercise should be avoided on the hottest summer days. If your parents want to participate in outdoor activities like walking or gardening, it is best to do it in the early mornings or evenings and avoid the midday sun. Keep well hydrated, wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, and apply SPF 15+ sunscreen. If you feel faint, light headed, or dizzy or experience rapid pulse or breathing, stop what you are doing and seek shade. Lie down, hydrate, apply wet cloths to your skin, and elevate your feet. If your condition does not improve, call 911.
Assurance Home Caregivers are there to assist and encourage Mom and Dad with their doctor-assigned exercise programs. Our caregivers assist physiotherapists and trainers specialized in elder care to maintain and improve mobility, strength, and muscle health. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.
- Stephen Bleeker