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Exercise for Senior Populations

Mahmoud Ibrahim, Certified Personal Trainer with a Bachelor's Degree in Athletic Training and Sports Science.

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Ageing is a normal biological process. We all know the signs of progressive ageing: wrinkles, slower movements or less agility, grey hair, and a less erect posture. However, the ageing process affects a lot more than those simple things we see. Even these basic, common changes have deeper causes and are the result of internal processes that we need to understand in order to be able to help senior clients.

It is true that, with modem medicine, people are now able to live longer. However, what is the quality of this prolonged life? Even among the young generations, fitness is barely shifting from a leisure activity to a necessity. It is very uncommon to meet a 70-year-old person in the gym or in an aerobics class. It is today our duty as fitness professionals to show these people how exercise can greatly affect the quality of their lives. We can’t promise that exercise will make them live longer but, undoubtedly, it can help them live better. For, what is the use of living to be 80 or 90 if you can’t even go to the bathroom on your own?

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Chronological Age vs. Biological Age

It is important to understand the difference between someone’s chronological age and their biological one. Even though according to your birth certificate, you are 60 years old (your chronological age) you could actually have the fitness and health status of a 40-year old (biological age). People who look 60, actually turn out to be 40. This is mainly due to lack of exercise, bad diets, and unhealthy lifestyles.

a well-educated and experienced personal trainers could have a very positive effect on the quality of life of the elderly. by teaching and inculcating certain healthy habits into their younger clients, they can help them age better. They are able to do that safely and effectively because they understand the changes that the bodies are undergoing and what special exercise guidelines they need to follow when training them.

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Effects of Aging: Loss of Autonomy and Morbidity

As people age, some of the following changes occur and they find themselves more and more dependent on others to perform simple tasks of daily living:

  1. Impaired hearing ability.
  2. Deterioration of sight.
  3. Decreased joint mobility and arthritis.
  4. Loss of bone density and increased fear of falls.
  5. Memory loss and decreased the ability to concentrate.
  6. Impaired function of some organs (kidneys, liver, intestines, heart, etc.).
  7. Frequent morbid thoughts and a feeling awaiting (or fearing) death.

Benefits of Physical Training for Seniors?

Physical training could have a very positive impact on the quality of life of seniors through any or all of the following:

  • Improving their strength and muscle tone which also has a positive effect on bone density.
  • Muscular strength and power are important in improving functional abilities to perform some simple daily tasks such as getting in and out of a chair, getting in and out of bed, dressing, undressing, climbing stairs, carrying groceries, and etc.
  • Improving their flexibility and partially or totally restoring range of motion to various joints of the body.
  • Restoring some functions of body organs through improved circulation, increased metabolism and healthy eating habits.

There are some safety measures that can make a senior’s life easier. These may include any of the following:

  • Installing some wall-bars around the house (especially in bathrooms and kitchens) to allow seniors to lean on while moving around.
  • Removing carpets or sticking their edges to the floor to diminish chances of tripping and falls.
  • Advising seniors to always wear shoes and other footwear that is attached to the foot. No slippers!
  • Leaving some sort of light on in every room of the house at all times.
  • Switching a regular diet to healthier eating habits.

Best of luck!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Mahmoud Ibrahim