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Mature Adults & Exercise

The majority of older adults do not engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity, which often causes negative effects on their health and overall well-being, such as obesity and related chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, joint problems, diabetes complications, high LDL levels etc).  However, the obesity does not present the only negative result of inactivity in old age.  Sedentary seniors often have poor flexibility and coordination and are more likely to injure themselves while performing everyday activities.

In healthy seniors, exercise slows down the ageing process and contributes to increased ability to cope with daily tasks.  Seniors gain the ability to take part in common daily activities are independent and have a better self-esteem and approach to life.

The goals of specific programs in retirement villages are to motivate and encourage seniors, especially those aged between 60 and 70, to participate in physical activities and to provide a range of enjoyable forms of low to moderate intensity exercise activities such as Tai Chi, various forms of resistance training, yoga and aqua-aerobic.

Eight- Form Easy Tai Chi for Elderly Adult

In the article “Eight-Form Easy Tai Chi for Elderly Adult”, the authors describe the simplified form of the most popular Tai Chi style Yeng. The Eight-Form Tai Chi is designed specially for elderly adults and some of its features include:

  • Low impact exercise originating in martial-arts
  • Doesn’t require special equipment
  • Can be performed standing or seated
  • Series of movements linked together
  • Includes focus on diaphragmatic breathing and mental concentration and so promotes harmony between body and mind
  • Focus on improving  body coordination
  • Movements are simple and not very difficult to memorise
  • Provides artistic enjoyment for the performer

Tai Chi becomes popular in the world for its physical and mental health benefits, such as reductions in fall risks and fear of falling, improved cardiovascular function and physical functioning, reductions in tension and stress, enhanced movement confidence and physical self esteem.

Resistance training for elderly

The human body changes in the process of aging naturally, especially the musculoskeletal system changes with age – lean body mass decreases as well as muscular strength and endurance, joint mobility and bone density. Resistance training helps to slow down those processes and this type of training should be part of an exercise program for seniors together with flexibility and aerobic exercise.
 
Some studies consider resistance exercise effective against depression while other researches argue that resistance training improves mood but does not have effect on depression.

There are also some disagreements related to the intensity of a resistance exercise. Most of the studies recommend low to moderate intensity; on the other side some studies argue that low intensity resistance exercise does not bring required benefits.

Any physical activity program designed for seniors should include cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility involving low to moderate intensities and the frequency of activities to be carried out most days throughout a week. Education, information, motivation, and encouragement are important to attract seniors to take part in physical activity programs.

References

Pescatello, L.S., Murphy, D., Costanzo, D. 2000, Low-Intensity Physical Activity Benefits Blood Lipids and Lipoproteins in Older Adults Living at Home, Age and Ageing, 29(1):433-439.

Li, Fuzhong, Fisher, K. John, Harmer, Peter, Shirai, Machiko. 2003, A Simpler Eight-Form Easy Tai Chi for Elderly Adults, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, p.11.

Brennan, J. R. & Fred, H. 2002, Exercise Prescriptions for Active Seniors, Physician and Sports Medicine, p.30.

Brennan, J. R. & Fred, H. 2002, p.30.

McLafferty, Ch.L., Wetzstein, C.J., Hunter, G.R. 2004, Resistance Training is Associated with Improved Mood in Healthy Older Adults, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 98(3):946-957.

Seyness, O., Singh Fiatarone, M.A., Hue, O., Pras, P., Legros, P., Bernard, P.L. 2004, Physiological and Functional Responses to Low-Moderate versus High-Intensity Progressive Resistance Training in Frail Elders, Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 59(5):503-509.


 
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