Exercise for our Elders and Running Group Exercise Programs

It’s no secret that exercise is good for us. Good for our heart, our mood, our general well-being, but for some reason, the older we get, the less exercising we do. Contrary to popular belief, poor balance and muscle weakness has a lot more to do with inactivity and sedentary lifestyles than age.

The old saying is true: Use it or lose it! Regular exercise, in all ages, is proven to improve immune function, lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, reduce the risk of serious conditions, improve balance and flexibility, enhance mood and self-confidence, improve sleep, and even increase independence.

With the weather improving and warming up in most areas of the country, the motivation to get out and move is increasingly getting stronger. But how do you motivate those who may be a little older, or who may not be living on their own? Whether you are a caregiver in a facility where you can lead a group exercise program, or someone who just cares for an elderly loved one, this article will share all sorts of ideas to help get our seniors up and moving again.

Implementing a regular exercise routine for our seniors can have a dramatic impact on their health and well-being. There will always be those who choose to not participate, but all we can do is try. If you are working in a facility where group exercise is an option or working one on one with a loved one or an in-home patient, try to run the program at least twice a week to help the individuals maintain their physical function.

Getting Participation 

Convincing those who may be apprehensive to participate in any physical activity, alone or in a group, can be a challenge. Sometimes trying is all you can do. Here are a few things that may help you out.

  • Gently point out the benefits of exercise: improve immune function, lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, reduce the risk of serious conditions, improve balance and flexibility, enhance mood and self-confidence, improve sleep, and even increase independence.
  • Mitigate any fears – assure them that they are not too weak or too old for exercise and that there is no minimum skill required. Getting started is the hardest part…sometimes we all need a little reminder of that.
  • If you are hosting a group exercise program in a facility, invite your hesitant resident come along to just watch.

Fun with Props

Being enthusiastic and engaging when working out with someone a little less comfortable with the idea can have a very positive impact on the whole thing. Remember, positive energy is a highly contagious energy!

Using props can add an element of fun to your time working out. Not only can they be fun but holding a prop will actually also increase hand strength. Here are some ideas for props you can try and implement into your routines:

  • Scarves
  • Ribbons or streamers
  • Paper plates
  • Bottles
  • Maracas
  • Stretch bands
  • Hats
  • Balls
  • Homemade props – or ask the individuals for ideas for props…this could even turn into a little arts and crafts time! For example, you could decorate the paper plates, or add ribbons to the bottles. You could even add water to the bottles to make them a little heavier for a little more challenge. No matter our age, a lot of us are turned on by a little competition with ourselves and others.

Add Music

Who doesn’t like working out to music? All ages prefer to workout to some sort of music. It has the ability to lift spirits and put people in the right frame of mind to move their bodies. So find some suitable music to accompany your exercise routines. Background music and sing along music alike would be perfect for these exercise sessions.

Keep Things Timely

When working with seniors, they may not have the endurance or even desire for a long exercise routine. Combining exercise with another activity, such as a sing along or trivia questions, is a great way to break up the physical activity aspect. Doing a shorter routine that the participants enjoy can even be repeated for a second round if wanted.

When starting the exercises, make sure to incorporate as many body parts as possible to ensure you hit everything in your short timeframe.

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Legs
  • Feet

Tips for Running a Group Exercise Session

If you are a caregiver in a facility where a group exercise is an option, this section is for you. Before starting your routine, remind your residents if they get tired or uncomfortable to stop at any point. Also, remind them that if they can’t do the move asked of them, to just move in some way. Any motion is better than no motion, especially in seniors.

Remember to face your participants and make sure everyone can see you. Try and stay in one spot while you demonstrate the moves, this way the residents are able to focus on your movements.

Take short breaks after every 2-3 exercises. Remind your crowd to slowly breathe in through their nose and out through their mouths 2 or 3 times.

If you need some inspiration on what types of moves you should be implementing, YouTube has many wonderful videos of workouts perfect for our seniors.

The benefits of moving your body are so great. Get up and get out and bring your seniors with you. Whether you are hosting a group exercise or taking an elderly loved one on a walk around the block, get the blood moving and the endorphins flowing. All parties involved will feel the benefits.

If you or a loved one living alone are in need of personal care, consider Assisting Hands Home Care. They provide professional and compassionate caregivers who can help with meal preparation, groceries, shopping, and a full list of other services of in-home care. Find our list of locations by visiting https://assistinghands.com/location-list/

Written by: Lauren Foster

 

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