8 benefits of physical activity for the elderly

Physical activity for the elderly is very important to promote a sense of well-being, strengthen bones, improve the immune system and strengthen muscles, helping to walk better and preventing diseases such as osteoporosis, depression and diabetes, for example.

It is important that the exercises are performed on a regular basis, after the cardiologist and geriatrician is released and under the guidance of a physical education professional or physiotherapist, as this way, it is possible for the elderly to perform the best exercises and have the maximum benefits.

Benefits of physical activity for the elderly

For the elderly to have maximum benefits, it is important that they perform the exercises on a regular basis under the guidance of a trained professional and that they have a balanced and healthy diet. The main benefits of physical activity are:

  1. Prevents and helps to combat diseases such as hypertension, strokes, varicose veins, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, anxiety, depression, heart and lung problems;
  2. Improves muscle strength, decreasing the risk of falls and facilitates the movements of the arms, legs and trunk;
  3. Reduces the use of medicines because it improves the feeling of well-being, reducing pain;
  4. Increases appetite;
  5. It favors the strengthening of the immune system;
  6. Improves general physical conditioning;
  7. It decreases social isolation because it increases proximity to other people;
  8. It increases self-esteem, confidence and acceptance of the image that the elderly person has of himself, bringing more general well-being.

Stretching muscles and joints is also very suitable for doing at home, improving blood circulation, mobility and physical and emotional well-being. 

How to start physical activity for the elderly

Generally, at an early stage, low-impact activities such as walking, ballroom dancing and aqua aerobics are recommended, always avoiding the risk of injury to the muscles and overload of the joints. Before beginning any type of physical activity, the elderly must be guided by a physical educator or physiotherapist to define an individualized exercise program, as shown below:

  • Warm-up period : 10 minutes through light walks, up and down stairs, swimming, cycling or even daily activities such as household chores, gardening and dancing; 
  • Breathing exercises : must be carried out throughout the program, between one exercise and another; 
  • Stretches : improve the movements of the arms, legs and torso;
  • Exercises to improve balance and coordination : walking on your fingertips and heels, walking forward, backward and sideways, overcoming obstacles on the floor;
  • Train agility and walk faster ;
  • Exercises to improve muscle strength : use of dumbbells and shin guards;
  • Relaxation : period back to calm and rest. 

It is important to highlight that all physical activity must be adapted to the elderly and should preferably be carried out in groups or pairs, so that it is more motivating, thus avoiding the abandonment of the activity. Check out some exercises that can be practiced at home.

Physical activity for hypertensive elderly

Physical activity for hypertensive elderly people helps to improve circulation, increases the body’s blood volume and improves overall fitness. In such cases, activities such as walking and water aerobics are indicated, always under the guidance of a cardiologist and accompanied by a physical activity professional, in order to control any changes in blood pressure values.

Physical activity for obese elderly

In the case of elderly people who are overweight, physical activity has numerous benefits, including reducing weight and the amount of fats, increasing muscles and improving energy and the feeling of well-being.

In elderly people with difficulties due to pain in muscles and joints, walking and exercise in the water can be indicated at an early stage. As elderly people with few limitations, activities in the gym, such as aerobics classes, weight training, cycling or even running on the treadmill, can be recommended.

Tai Chi Chuan for the elderly

Although not a very frequent option, the practice of Tai Chi Chuan brings many benefits to the elderly, because this activity helps to strengthen the muscular system, work the body balance and improve the cognitive part of the brain, due to the concentration that required during the classes.

In addition, it helps prevent falls in the elderly, avoiding its complications, such as fractures and how classes are held in groups, helps to combat loneliness, being useful to prevent common depression in this age group. Check out other health benefits of tai chi chuan.

There is no contraindication for this practice. Only people who have heart disease should consider the situation with their doctors before starting classes.

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