It should not come as a surprise to anyone that beginning and actually maintaining an exercise routine can be difficult, despite knowing just how important it is for our health. Unfortunately, this is likely to only ring more true as we get older, particularly if health complications begin to limit our ability to engage in the kind of activity that we may have become accustomed to in the past. Nonetheless, physical and mental activities are just as critical, if not more critical, to the wellbeing of seniors as they are for younger adults.
Senior living communities typically have staff members who design and implement activities that get their residents engaged in regular physical activity. That being said, one of the most important things that senior living communities can do for their residents is to make sure that exercise equipment and instruction is available to those residents who want to stay active.
Benefits of Staying Physically Active
Even a regular routine of very limited physical activity can go a long way toward maintaining a person's strength as they age. Aside from the fact that physical activity can help seniors prevent muscle atrophy, maintain better balance, promote better circulation, and generally prevent a host of other physical problems, regular physical activity has also been directly connected to slowing mental decline among seniors.
In fact, studies suggest that regular exercise can help older adults do everything from manage their stress to maintain some important aspects of their cognitive function, including their ability to rapidly switch between tasks and determine what is and what is not relevant information. Even more promising are the studies that seem to suggest that exercise can reduce a person's risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The kind of physical activity that your loved one engages in is really up to them; just about anything they do to safely elevate their heart rate can be beneficial. That being said, senior living communities usually have a variety of activities for their residents to choose from throughout the day. This is particularly important for people who live with impairments that might stop them from engaging in some kinds of physical exercise.
Finding an Exercise Routine that Works
Whether it is water aerobics or chair fitness, almost any form of physical activity can help seniors maintain their health and their independence. Bearing that in mind, it will be important for your loved one to find an exercise routine that works for them. Many independent living communities have equipment that their residents can use at any time of day, including things like treadmills, stationary bikes, and free weights. Though assisted living communities will generally have less equipment available, they usually have activities that are designed to get people moving instead.
In any event, every senior living community should be able to provide your loved one with enough opportunities to engage in physical exercise that they will be able to find a routine that works for them. If they are not able to find a satisfactory routine, it will always be possible to reach out to the community's activities director to talk about what options may be available. For instance, if your loved one was interested in water aerobics but the community itself does not have a pool, it may be possible to arrange transportation for your loved one, and anyone else who is interested, to get to a pool that offers water aerobics.
What to Look for When Selecting a Community
When you begin the process of visiting and evaluating communities so that you and your loved one can make an informed decision about which community will be best, you should be sure to ask about what opportunities your loved one will have to exercise in or around the community. Accordingly, you should definitely go and look at the exercise facilities and even ask to observe any exercise classes the community offers, assuming they offer any at all. While you're at it, you should go ahead and ask about any other exercise-related opportunities, such as nearby community pools or affordable gyms/health clubs, that are near the community just so that you can get as comprehensive an idea of what is available as you can.
Beyond the community itself, you and your loved one should explore the surrounding area. For instance, there may be pedestrian walkways near the community or shopping centers that your loved one could safely walk to from time to time. Walking is an excellent form of exercise and your loved one will be much more inclined to get out if the surrounding area is appealing.