Hily Perpinyal from Home Physio Group, answers questions about fitness, fun and seniors
How do you get an older loved one interested in gentle exercise?
Getting the elderly to exercise works differently for different people. Seniors often lack confidence and believe “they can’t do it.” As a care giver, you can empower your relative and make them realise “they can do it.”
Exercises can start easy before they are made more challenging. Making the exercises more like a game can be helpful. This can involve your loved one being in a seated or a standing position throwing and catching a ball or gently kicking a ball. Try exercising to music that they enjoy. Mental exercises can be combined with physical ones - for instance throwing and catching a ball whilst naming countries , objects etc.
Routine often helps, so pick a certain time of the day or day of the week that’s dedicated to exercise. Care givers can always contact a physio if they’re unsure where to start!
How important is exercise for elderly parents ?
It can be very important mentally and physically for seniors to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Exercise helps minimise the risk of falls as well as improves strength, balance, flexibility and confidence.
Physical activity releases endorphins, which can really help brighten their mood and set them up for the day.
It can be good for the heart, lungs and circulation, especially if they are sitting down most of the day. It also helps improve sleep and boosts the immune system.
How important is exercise for carers ?
Carers should also take time out to exercise. It’s difficult to look after somebody else if you’re not looking after yourself. Being a carer can be challenging at times, so try to stay positive with exercise. It can really help manage your stress levels. Take time out to do things that you enjoy. If you can't get outside because it's difficult to leave your loved one alone, you can always exercise at home. There are many options to choose from, like yoga, pilates, Tai Chi as well as online fitness training.
Do you need lots of fancy home equipment?
Fancy home equipment is unnecessary . Light ankle weights or light dumb bells and a ball can often be sufficient. And some strengthening, flexibility and balance exercises don't need any equipment at all!
What sorts of exercises are good for seniors?
It depends on the physical level of the individual. For those with mobility problems, exercises can be carried out in a seated position. For those who are more able, standing exercises and movement may be more beneficial.
Strength training, balance and flexibility exercises are all good for seniors. I would suggest that if you are unsure of what exercises your loved one should be doing, again you can consult a physio.
You can find some useful exercises for the elderly in the link below:
How do you promote safe exercise in a pandemic?!
Those in the vulnerable group can exercise at home or in their garden with or without their carer, depending on what feels safe. There are also plenty of online exercise videos and virtual classes.
It may also work to follow the example of Captain Tom Moore and set a specific goal - like going up and down stairs a certain number of times a day, or walking a certain distance around the garden.
Hily Perpinyal is clinical director at Home Physio Group