Exercise is a wonderful way to improve mental health and reduce behaviors seen in seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Exercising can also help reduce the risk of falling, something we commonly see in seniors. Now that Boise’s summertime has arrived, it is the perfect time to get active and get outside! We at Foxtail Senior Living have compiled a list of four different kinds of physical activity that are encouraged for happy and healthy living!
The simplest and most-overlooked form of exercise is walking. All you need are comfortable clothes and a pair of tennis shoes. Before beginning to walk, consult with a physician and make sure daily walks are okay. Start with a short, 10-minute walk around the neighborhood. Bring the dog if you have one and take a friend as well. These will act as motivators. Walking with friends also acts as a beneficial social interaction. You will more than likely stop and talk to people you meet out on your walk. Believe it or not, these small conversations can decrease symptoms of isolation and increase lifespan overall. Set goals that can be worked towards over time, like walking to a nearby park or a coffee shop they might want to visit. Gradually start walking for longer periods of time and see if you can make it to 30 minute walks, five days per week.
Here are some more benefits of walking that we see in seniors:
- Strengthens muscles, joints, and bones
- Reduces blood pressure
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Improves sleep
- Lowers risk for heart disease and diabetes
- Improves balance and coordination – important for lowering risk of falling
- Raises energy levels and makes you feel good/accomplished
Swimming is considered a low-impact, non-weight bearing exercise for seniors. In fact, swimming reduces the effects of gravity and takes some pressure off of your body weight. It doesn’t put any pressure on your hips, knees, or spine. Therefore, swimming is extremely beneficial for seniors who have arthritis and any other conditions that may regularly strain their joints. According to a 2016 study, swimming can relieve the pains of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis just as well as walking. For seniors who might have a limited range of motion on land, stretching and moving their limbs can improve flexibility. Being able to use this full range of motion keeps joints healthy. Swimming works most muscles, but especially the muscles in the upper body and the legs. These are all super important in stability and posture, which in turn, prevents falling. Like walking with friends, swimming with friends can also give socialization opportunities. Finding a senior swimming class can give seniors the chance to meet new people and have something to look forward to each week. Feeling a sense of community and belonging can lessen symptoms of loneliness and depression.
Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines skills from tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is a sport in which two, three, or four players all hold paddles and try to hit a ball similar to a wiffle ball, over a net. The rules are similar to tennis but a little different. Pickleball was invented in the 1960s as a pastime for children, and it is now widely used as an activity for adults. Pickleball is a low-impact sport and is great for your health. Pickleball can help with balance and agility, as well as improve heart health. Playing pickleball regularly can increase energy, reduce risks for chronic illnesses, and tone and strengthen muscles. There are several pickleball courts in the Boise, Meridian, and Nampa area. There are also several beginner classes available through the City of Boise. If this is of interest to you, please contact us so we can help get you started!
Strokes, heart disease, and heart attacks are some of the most common causes of death for seniors. Riding a bike is a great way to get the heart pumping. The more you do it, the stronger your heart will become, preventing any sort of heart-related ailment. Cycling is also a recommended activity for seniors with memory loss. When you’re riding a bike, your mind is at full capacity making sure your brain is receiving oxygen. This stimulates the part of your brain that is responsible for Alzheimers and dementia. Boredom is one of the biggest complaints from seniors. At Foxtail Assisted Living, we are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful trails here in Eagle, Idaho. One of the most popular being the Boise River Greenbelt. Extending more than 25 miles, cyclists can see wildlife and stop to explore local parks such as Ann Morrison and Julia Davis Park along the way.
Summer is the best time of year to get outdoors and get your body moving, whether you’re walking, biking, swimming, or playing pickleball. At Foxtail Assisted Living, we want to see all of our residents thrive. If you have any questions about the services we offer, visiting our facility, or taking your loved ones out for some physical activity, don’t hesitate to reach out!