Seniors and Fitness
By Anna DiMarco, Senior Physiotherapist
Age-related declines in Neuromuscular, Cardiovascular and Cognitive Capacity are an unavoidable reality.
But we do have some capacity to minimize these declines through physical activity.
Unfortunately, often due to an “all or nothing” mentality, physical activity participation rates remain quite low in older adults.
How can we help our seniors adopt a more active lifestyle so they can reap the physical, cognitive, emotional and social benefits of movement?
Most importantly, we can reassure them that they can achieve a lot of benefit simply from continuing to pursue a multitude of hobbies, including all the physical ones they truly enjoy and maybe gave up due to aging.
Maybe it’s golf and they move from 9 or 18 holes or to the driving range or to mini golf? Maybe it’s tennis and we downsize to doubles pickle ball? Maybe it’s dancing and they move out of the ballroom to their living room? Maybe they used to have a big backyard garden and they adopt a more accessible “container” style model of gardening?
Secondly, I would encourage our seniors to explore new activities and maintain an open mind about what they may be able to do. Most activities can be “regressed” to suit the capacities of a novice senior….yoga for seniors, hiking for seniors, bowling for seniors….with the added bonus of finding companionship with a like-minded community of peers.
And the third piece of advice I’d offer a senior is to rethink those little “inconveniences” that pop up daily as opportunities for movement and functional maintenance. More specifically…..choose to push open doors rather than use the electronic/ accessibility-friendly button, pick things up off the floor using any version of a squat or lunge that works for you, practice getting down to the floor and off of it (with or without furniture assist), sit to stand from a chair without your hands (or almost without), carry your grocery bags, push heavy carts around the store a few times, clean your house, do whatever yard work you can, park your car a little further from your destination if the environment is safe and clear of debris and obstacles.