Exercise for older adults at home: Tips from a physiotherapist
Published on 15 October 2022
It is important to motivate older adults to maintain an active lifestyle at home to prevent deconditioning and muscle loss.
Exercise is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle – and seniors are no exception.
When it comes to the well-being of older adults, it is important for family members and caregivers to motivate your loved ones to maintain an active lifestyle at home, in order to prevent deconditioning and muscle loss.
There are three different types of exercise needed for good overall conditioning.
|Types of Exercise||Benefits||How often?|
Raises heart rate, improves blood flow, and makes you breathe faster and feel warmer. This is good for heart and lung health, stamina, and endurance.
Puts tension on the muscles, promotes muscle growth, and builds strength. This lowers the risk of falls and improves function for everyday activities.
Increases flexibility and keeps muscles limber to prevent injury and improve balance.
Immobility causes muscles to shorten and become tight, but stretching helps to lengthen muscles, maintain elasticity, and contribute to daily function.
|Balance exercises`||Balance exercises improves the ability to control and stabilise the body and is particularly important for older adults. With age, proprioception (the ability to know where you are in space) declines and affects balance.|
Get your heart pumping – tips for aerobic exercises
Some options for aerobic exercise include: brisk walking, swimming, using an elliptical machine, stair climbing, or cycling on a bicycle or seated pedal bike
If your loved one has limited mobility, you can assist by standing on their weaker side or opposite the walking aid. Stand close to them and if necessary, hold the back of the pants or waist for added support
Consider bringing along a wheelchair to allow for seated breaks
For walking safety in the community, avoid uneven surfaces, slopes, and wet areas to prevent falls
|Use the ‘talk test’ to gauge aerobic intensity|
|Can you talk during the activity?|
|Yes, but you cannot sing||No, you must pause to breathe|
|Moderate intensity||Vigorous intensity|
Build strength and function – tips for resistance exercises
Resistance exercise builds strength by putting muscles under tension using body weight or small weights. Any household item can be a weight! Get creative – use water bottles, tin cans, or small bags of rice.