Senior Citizens And The Benefits Of Exercise

by Aaron Pressley Galvin on 20th December,2018

Senior Citizens And The Benefits Of Exercise

The future of the human race is a physically fit strong and healthy senior demographic. Senior fitness is huge in the USA and Asia with both parts of the world boasting a healthy long living retirement/senior demographic. The trend is slowly catching on in Ireland and the UK but we have a lot of catching up to do.


The senior citizen population is on the rise nationally and globally. The old population (i.e. those aged 65 years and over) is projected to increase very significantly from its 2011 level of 532,000 to between 850,000 and 860,700 by 2026, and to close to 1.4 million by 2046. The very old population (i.e. those aged 80 years of age and over) is set to rise even more dramatically, increasing from 128,000 in 2011 to between 484,000 and 470,000 in 2046. The knock effect means the emphasis and demand on senior health and fitness is more than likely going to increase accordingly.

The average lifespan in has increased greatly with modern medicine and people are living longer with the average life span being 80.9 (78 for males & 83 for females) years in ireland. Compare this to 50 years ago when the life expectancy was 70 years on average. This possibly means retirement age will be more than likely increased meaning we will be working later into our lives and for that we need to be fit and healthy.


The Ageing Process

As the human body ages the bones naturally lose density and become brittle which is called Osteoporosis. This can be a major issue since seniors tend to lose balance control and if a fall occurs the damage can be very serious resulting in shatter hips/pelvis or broken arms or legs etc. Resistance training i.e Leg pressing, and load bearing exercises, can help slow down the loss of bone density and even help reverse osteoporosis to a certain degree.

Sarcopenia is a similar issue caused by the natural loss of muscle density which results in muscle mass and strength loss. Resistance/weight training again is key here to help maintain muscle mass and keep the skeletal muscle strong and mobile.

As you age your metabolism slows down alot which means you can't metabolize as much food or calories as you used to nor do you need as many calories daily to fuel your daily needs. The digestive system is also weaker meaning your constitution or your ability to digest food changes and you won't be able to consume tough food like steak or acid like or spicy foods. Preferably the diet should consist of soft nutritious foods like potatoes, vegetables, bananas, boiled chicken and fish.


                                                                                                                        Age Is Just A Number

Exercise is not just about getting stronger and fitter it also has huge mental benefits too. Being able to get out of the house and socialise in the leisure center or gym with other seniors will help improve mood, happiness and keep cognitive function sharp. Socialising is as much fun for the older generation as it is for the younger. Being independently able to dress and clean themselves, get out of a bath or sofa/arm chair with ease may seem like a normal everyday thing for most but for the senior citizen it makes an incredible difference and makes life easier a lot easier less stressful for them.

The old mindset rgarding retirement was to think ok i've worked hard enough, time to enjoy retirement i'll put the legs up and relax which means sitting down more moving less and generally taking it easy. However this is probably the most important time to get up and keep moving whether it's i n the gym or just walking to shops and gardening. The older body is far more susceptible to tightening and shortening of the muscles and lack of flexibility from sitting or sedentary behavior. So getting moving is the key to keep your body supple and limber. Not doing so can result in postural defects and lack of mobility which is hard to rectify if the not addressed early on with with specific stretching and flexibility routines.


Exercise Recommendations

Cardiovascular health is very important component of health and fitness for all age groups but obviously an older individual will not be able to for high intensity or high impact aerobic exercise classes or jogging etc so a more gentle form of exercise like reclined biking, swimming or aqua aerobics would be more appropriate.

Along with making an effort to keep active in the household, cleaning, tidying, walking to shops, gardening etc i would recommend visiting the gym or leisure center 3 days a week for example monday – wednesday – friday. Focus on low impact cardio first to warm up followed by a whole body resistance routine and finishing with some gentle stretching/flexibility.

The pool and swimming can be alternated with gym workouts too for instance attending aqua aerobics classes (lots of leisure centers offer these classes) or swimming laps or gentle low impact aqua jogging. As a certified senior citizen specialist i am knowledgeable in many areas and can provide the precise care and guidance needed to suit the individual senior. I always provide a specifically designed program to all my senior clients as abilities and limitations vary from one individual to the next.


Last Modified: Thursday 20th December 2018