Fitness for Seniors: Basic Physical Therapy Activities to do at Home
Physical Therapy at Home Is Important
No one needed to tell you that physical fitness for seniors is important but there are some facts you may not know about. For example, you may not know that studies show that we lose ½ to 1 percent of our lean muscle mass every year starting in our thirties. The medical term for this is Sarcopenia, and it will affect everyone in their lifetime. Potential causes of sarcopenia include lack of exercise, poor nutrition, body wide inflammation and hormonal changes.
It doesn’t stop there; our muscle strength declines up to 15 percent every ten years. This is significant because a decrease in muscle mass and strength contributes to weakness, frailty and a loss of independence over time. Continued decline in these areas make a person much more prone to falls and serious injury. There are many things we can do to remain strong and healthy as we age, and many of them for very little cost and in fact potentially reverse some of the effects of sarcopenia.
Physical Activity at Home Puts Seniors at Ease
Performing physical activity at home is great because it is both low cost and convenient. Many seniors feel self-conscious going to a fitness centre. Exercising in the comfort of your own home enables you to adjust to your routine at your own pace without people watching you. This can include a basic strength training program that will help you maintain and/or increase your current strength and fitness level.
Probably one of the most effective ways to get started on a Home Exercise Routine is to meet up with a physiotherapist for a simple session to learn some stretches and basic exercises. This is recommended for seniors or persons with other health concerns as a healthcare professional will have a clearer understanding of your diagnosis and physical condition than the fitness instructor at the local gym. They’ll look at your overall health and explain to you simple exercises that will allow you to maintain a healthy level of activity without overextending yourself.
Inexpensive Products to Help Seniors stay Active at Home
TheraBand offers some really great exercise products. One item to look for is their latex and non-latex exercise bands which come in a variety of resistance levels. These are easy to use, very affordable, and take up very little storage space. The resistance level is determined based on the thickness of the band.
Exercise balls are a great way to strengthen muscles, improve your posture and relieve back pain. They come in a variety of sizes so that you can find one that is a good match for your height. They are excellent for providing a deep stretch to your back. And, as you progress, there are more advanced exercises that can be performed. Talk to the staff at your local Motion Specialties for more information.
Pedal Exercisers are a favorite with many seniors. These can be used on the floor to work on range of motion in the legs, especially knee and hip, or on a table top to strengthen arms and shoulders. There are numerous benefits to taking on even a lightweight cycling habit.
Incorporating light weights into your exercise plan will add another dimension to your strength training. Hand-held, ankle and wrist weights are a safe way to do this. Consider using ankle or wrist weights and going for a light walk to begin. You can gauge your progress over time and increase both the size of the weight and the intensity of your pace.
Health Reporter Deborah Kotz in her article ‘Senior Citizens Need to Work Out, Too’, shares:
“Resistance training can ease the aches and pains of aging. Strengthening the quadriceps, the four big muscles on the top of the thigh, for example, causes the muscles to absorb much of the burden on the knee joint, decreasing the pain of arthritis. And a spate of studies has found that two to three days a week of weight training preserves bone density and muscle mass, lowering the risk of fractures—a leading cause of debilitation in those over 65.”
Stop into Motion Specialties and grab yourself some exercise equipment that you can use at home! It is a great time start.