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By Letshego Zulu


Why exercise is vital for seniors

Exercise is important for all, whether you are two years old, 30 years old or 70 years old.

The older we get, past retirement age, the amount of exercise we engage in tends to diminish from minimal to none and that should not be the case.

Studies have shown that engaging in regular physical activity can help prevent many common ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease.

Exercise also improves overall immune function which is important for the elderly people as their immune systems are often compromised.

Regular exercise also helps to improve mental health, which is also important as the elderly often suffer from mental illness.

It is also good for sleep because the elderly often suffer from disrupted sleep and insomnia. As we age, proprioception and balance tend to decrease and we become prone to falls and injuries. To help reduce falls, it is important to maintain strong muscles and bones by doing regular strengthening exercises.

Image: Istock

Exercise is also important to help maintain flexibility and coordination, which also help with preventing falls. It is important to avoid falls or any type of injuries in senior citizens because they take longer to heal.

When you sustain an injury, the immune system inflames the wound to prevent further infections.

This process slows down drastically in old age, which is why the elderly heal much slower. Regular exercise, especially in groups such as walking group or aerobics group classes are great for the elderly because they often experience feelings of loneliness and depression.

Therefore, group exercise helps them have a sense of belonging and purpose and can help them live longer and happier lives.

5 exercises to improve strength Any form of exercise is good for the elderly, however, strength exercise
s should be at the top of the list.

Five simple exercises that are great for improving strength and helping to prevent falls are:


These are best for helping with standing up from chairs with ease. They help to strengthen thigh and buttock muscles.
Tricep dips on chairs: These are great for helping with arm strength. For getting up from chairs and beds, to carrying items around the house. They help to strengthen triceps muscles.

Calf raises:
(sitting or standing) These are great for helping with balance and proprioception while standing. Strengthening the calves will help activate leg muscles that need to engage in the case of a potential fall.

Step ups :
These are great for strengthening overall leg muscles. They target the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and buttocks.

Push ups :
(against the wall or on your knees) These are perfect for strengthening the upper body muscles. Similar to triceps dips, they will assist with helping you up from the bed or floor and also up from chairs. In addition to strength exercises, cardio exercises such as walking and water aerobics are great for the elderly.

They keep the heart and lungs healthy and functioning well. Pilates is great for helping with balance and mobility. It increases strength and flexibility in both the core and legs, which positively affects balance.

Yoga is also good for flexibility and balance but also for meditation purposes, which in turn will help to keep their minds healthy and stress free. Regardless of age, exercise is good and it should be a lifestyle for everyone.

Zulu is a qualified biokineticist and cofounder of PopUpGym. Follow her on Instagram: @letshego.zulu; Twitter:@letshegom; Facebook: Letshego Zulu

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