Seniors Who Exercise Most Suffer Least Physical
Decline But Still Fall Short of Guidelines
More muscle-strengthening exercises should be
encouraged among older adults in retirement communities – See
Exercise Guidelines for Seniors below
11, 2014 – Seniors age 65 and older living in retirement communities who
reported the most exercise had less physical decline than those who did
less. This is another in a steady stream of research confirming the
health benefits of exercise for senior citizens although research also
shows most in this older age group remain inactive and fail to meet the
recommended physical activity guidelines. And, even the active elderly
are avoiding the badly needed strength training.
Most previous studies have not represented elders
living in retirement communities, who may have more access to
recreational activities and exercise equipment, according to Phillips.
The researchers at the University of Missouri found
also that many older adults in retirement communities - even those who
exercised - did not complete muscle-strengthening exercises, which are
another defense against physical decline.
“The most popular physical activities the
residents of the retirement community reported doing were light
housework and walking, both of which are easily integrated into
individuals’ daily lives, but these exercises are not the best choices
for maintaining muscle strength,” said Phillips.
She and her colleagues studied the physical
activity of 38 residents at Tiger Place, an independent-living community
in Columbia, four times in one year. The researchers tested the
residents’ walking speed, balance and their ability to stand up after
sitting in a chair. Then, researchers compared the results of the tests
to the residents’ self-reported participation in exercise.
Phillips found that residents who reported doing
more exercise had more success maintaining their physical abilities over
Phillips says the national recommendations for
exercise include muscle strengthening exercises, such as knee extensions
and bicep curls. Most of the study participants did not report
completing these types of activities despite daily opportunities for
recreational activities and access to exercise equipment.
Muscle strength, Phillips says, is important to
individuals of this age group in order for them to maintain their
ability to conduct everyday activities such as opening jars, standing up
from chairs and supporting their own bodyweight.
“For older individuals, walking may represent the
most familiar and comfortable type of physical activity,” Phillips said.
“Muscle-strengthening exercises should be promoted more aggressively in
retirement communities and made more appealing to residents.”
To combat the lack of physical activity among
seniors, Phillips says health care providers should discuss exercise
programs with their patients and share the possible risks associated
with their lack of exercise, such as losing their ability to live
independently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, individuals 65 years of age and older that have no limiting
health conditions should do muscle-strengthening activities that work
all major muscle groups at least two days a week.
Phillips’ research, “Retirement Community
Residents’ Physical Activity, Depressive Symptoms, and Functional
Limitations,” was published in Clinical Nursing Research.
• Original report by Diamond Dixon, University
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
How much physical activity do older
Activity is Essential to Healthy Aging
older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important
things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health
problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow
stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without
becoming dependent on others.
any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health
condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at
all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical
activity that you do.
65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health
you can follow the guidelines listed below.
We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of
time, but it's not. That's 2 hours and 30 minutes,
about the same amount of time you might spend
watching a movie. The good news is that you can
spread your activity out during the week, so you
don't have to do it all at once. You can even break
it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
It's about what works best for you, as long as
you're doing physical activity at a moderate or
vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.