As the pandemic gradually eases, many older adults who have been sheltering in place are eager to return to normalcy. However, after months of following COVID-19 restrictions, many seniors discovered that the pandemic affected their lives more than they realized.
If you’re having trouble returning to exercise post-pandemic, you’re not alone. Social distancing, especially in seniors, has been shown to reduce physical activity significantly. As coronavirus swept through the nation, seniors reduced their physical activity to avoid group activities where the virus would likely spread. Consequently, older adults are now noticing a significant change in how they feel. As a result, exercising after being inactive for so long is proving to be more difficult.
The Importance Of Physical Activity in Older Adults
Keep in mind that exercise is essential for senior health, so any movement for an aging adult is better than none. In addition, studies have shown that physical activity improves functional capabilities, such as mobility and individual independence at home and within the community.
Moreover, there is strong evidence that exercise improves the well-being of aging adults with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, dementia, and cognitive impairment. Conversely, seniors who fall on the wayside regarding physical activity are prone to declines in autonomy, quality of life, institutionalization, and mortality.
How Can Seniors Ease Back into Exercise?
It’s recommended that older people strive to fulfill at least two hours and 30 minutes to five hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity. However, after a long break of inactivity, this may be difficult to achieve right away. Seniors eager to incorporate exercise back into their routine should start slowly and gradually reintroduce their bodies to physical activity.
Connect With Your Primary Care
Firstly, seniors should reconnect with their primary care physicians to discuss functional abilities, health conditions, and personal health goals. Furthermore, physicians can refer older adults to specialists such as physical therapists or occupational therapists when seniors experience trouble doing activities they used to do.
Start Slow With Online Resources
Although tailored individual exercise plans are ideal by health professionals, they’re not always practical for everyone. Therefore, many online resources providing exercise examples are available online for older adults to ease back into physical activity.
Homestrong: Developed by a physical therapist, Homestrong exercises aim to aid aging adults in boosting their strength and balance, with three simple 10-minute exercise videos. Additionally, the activities focus on lower limb strength and balance. Through these simple daily exercises, older adults can become stronger and gain confidence.
NHS inform: Developed by Scotland National Health Service, NHS inform provides three levels of fitness videos. However, seniors easing back into exercise post-pandemic can check their balance and ultimately decide what level of exercise they should start.
Safe Exercise at Home: Developed by physiotherapists, the Safe Exercise at Home program helps seniors ease back into physical activity with several cardiovascular, strength, and balance exercises that can easily be done at home. Also, the Safe Exercise program provides hard copies of their activities for caregivers to print and give to their loved ones who don’t have internet access at home.
Many aging adults will find that returning to exercise post-pandemic feels different, as it may be more challenging. Unfortunately, social distancing and sheltering in place likely prompted a decline in functional abilities amongst older adults. But, in time, seniors can regain their strength with help from their physicians and by participating in manageable exercises while reestablishing their routines.