Move It. Don’t Lose It
With the implementation of social distancing and the temporary closure of gyms, it's important for everyone to maintain their fitness gains, especially older adults.
Staying physically active is the most important thing older adults can do to stay fit and independent. Multiple researches show that health can be improved, and the risk of falling reduced, by doing moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. However, a terrible irony of the coronavirus epidemic is that for older adults, steps to prevent contracting COVID—19 now increase their risk of social isolation, which carries its own devastating health effects.
Broadly, older people are more vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation, and forming friendships and the social aspect of taking part in group exercise is a good way of protecting them from this. As a way of encouraging physical activity in older adults, the program SilverSneakers was created in the early 1990s. By enrolling, members receive free access to—
More than 15,000 gym locations across the US
All the equipment in the gym
Amenities such as pools and courts at the centre
More than 70 styles of classes offered by SilverSneakers, with certified instructors
Online resources that include diet and fitness tips
In addition to fitness, SilverSneakers prides itself on creating a social environment for older people. According to a member survey, 88% felt they have a “better quality of life” since joining, more than 90% said their health was “good, very good, or excellent” at the time of the survey, and 75% said they’ve made friends because of the program therefore, it becomes more imperative for older adults not to lose the fitness momentum and connectedness gained due to the implementation of social distancing.
Staying Active During Social Distancing
Encourage older adults to stay active whilst staying at home. Group classes may not be available during the COVID—19 pandemic, therefore it’s important for them to stay “moving” and maintain gains in strength, balance, and flexibility that reduce fall risk and strengthen the immune system. Whilst at home, they should try to limit prolonged sedentary behaviour through floor exercises, walking around the back garden or even simple yoga. One exercise recommended by trainer Lynn Montoya, an expert in fitness for people over 50, recommends is the “reverse lunge” as one part of a full—body strength workout, using just your body weight, or a few household items.
According to Montoya’s advice, practice reverse lunges by standing with feet shoulder—width apart, hands at the sides or on hips. With the right foot, take a large step back (depending on age and ability), landing with the ball of that foot on the ground and the heel up. Lower the back leg straight down until it gently grazes the ground or close to it, creating a 90—degree angle in the front leg. Push through the heel and mid—foot of the front leg to return to standing, bringing your right foot back in line with your left. Repeat on the left side. That's one rep. If exercisers have knee issues, or are beginners, they should lower the knee only one—fourth of the way down, working within a pain—free range. Starting with a shorter stride length, the distance can be increased as strength improves.
Resistance bands are versatile strength training tools. They’re lightweight and portable. Strength training with resistance bands is a great way for older adults to become stronger and more flexible while fighting bone loss and arthritis pain. As we age, our joint mobility can become compromised, which often means it becomes more difficult to get up from a favourite chair or walk up a flight of stairs. By adding knee extension exercises to a resistance—training workout for example, you'll strengthen your hamstrings (the back of your upper legs). Knee extension exercises can be done while seated: sitting on a sturdy chair, tie one end of the resistance band around one ankle and the other end to a secure, heavy object located behind you. Bend the knees at a 90—degree angle. Working one leg at a time, slowly straighten the knee, as high as is comfortable, against the resistance of the band. Slowly bend the knee. Relax, and then repeat with the opposite leg. To keep the shoulders and arms flexible, add overhead arm raises to your workout. More simple exercises can be found through this link.
Plan to Connect
Distancing, and indeed loneliness, among older adults isn’t something caused by the coronavirus, but it will be worsened by it. Just as countless businesses have now moved to remote working and teleconferencing, to balance social distancing and the need for continued collaboration, the promise of “virtual” options can ease social isolation. To compensate for the reduction of person—to—person social interaction, we must all ramp up our virtual communication to ensure that we are not losing touch with friends and family.
Many of us will face the same issue of limiting our level of social activity to make sure we can safely visit at—risk friends and family. Therefore, the healthier and careful we are, the safer it will be for us to visit our favourite people. The less careful we are, however, the more we will be forced to stay away from older relations out of caution, thus worsening their isolation. #youmewe #howfitnessshouldfeel
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