The word exercise often induces images of sweat and labored breathing, discouraging many people. Exercising on a regular basis helps us stay healthy and maintain our weight when combined with a balanced diet. Despite knowing this, many people go without regular exercise.
This is very apparent in the senior population, where dependent behavior is actually encouraged. Perhaps it is due to their perceived frailty. But according to new research, this perception may be doing our elderly a great disservice.
A misguided perception of seniors
Home care aides provide seniors and older adults with services and personal care to individuals that can no longer take care of themselves. While making sure they don’t overexert themselves is of great importance, a study was done to see if using this method of senior care was best for their overall health.
The study investigated homebound seniors taking part in three low-risk, gentle exercises as part of a program called Healthy Moves for Aging Well. These included a seated step-in-place, arm curls, and an ankle point-and-flex. All exercises were guided by at home aides, making sure that participants were performing the exercises safely. Encouragement was also given to the older adults to complete exercises on a daily basis, and they were frequently reminded of their health goals.
A total of 54 subjects took part in the study, ranging in age from 63 to 101. For a total of four months, seniors were asked to perform these at-home exercises.
The researchers saw significant improvement in the participant’s ability to perform basic activities such as getting to the toilet, pouring a drink from a carton, preparing meals, and doing laundry.
“Improvement in these small tasks makes a large difference when it comes to quality of life, especially in a society that has not yet caught up to the needs of its aging population,” said study author Naoko Muramatsu, associate professor of community health sciences at the University of Chicago School of Public Health.
He continued, “few physical activity programs target older adults who have difficulty with basic activities, such as standing and walking. Programs that do so effectively—through physical or occupational therapy, for example—are often too expensive for wide dissemination among this group of people.”
Overall function and health outcomes saw an improvement, and satisfaction with the program ranked high with 98% of participants.
The researchers are quite happy with the outcome of this study. They want to get more home care aids to develop and become involved in a sustainable health promotion program such as this.