National Senior Health and Fitness Day will be held this year on Wednesday, May 29th, and that makes now the perfect time to give a little thought to adding a bit more activity into your daily schedule, to increase the health benefits you receive, and to enjoy a higher quality of life. In Oxford and elsewhere around the U.S., seniors will be participating in events publicly as well as at home, to increase the level of their activity and their overall fitness. Senior home care personnel can play a big role in encouraging this increased level of activity and fitness, especially when caregivers recognize the health benefits to be derived, and promote this greater level of activity to their charges.
Conditions which lead to disability are now considered the primary culprits in causing a loss of independence to senior citizens, and in some cases, it can become so pronounced that it actually triggers fatal consequences. By staying physically active, you can go a long way toward preventing disability which arises from worsening joint conditions. A new study which has recently been compiled makes it clear that people who are suffering from joint issues such as stiffness, discomfort, or pain in the knees, ankles, or feet, can derive huge benefits from an hour of exercise every week.
If this program is maintained for at least four years, it is found that individuals who have faithfully participated in at least an hour of activity each week are much more likely to be free of disabilities than non-participants. The study was conducted from 2008 to 2014, with the results published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and the vast majority of participants were at an elevated risk of disability because they had lower extremity joint symptoms. Osteoarthritis, in particular, was the condition that participants were attempting to overcome, because most of those in the study were seniors, and osteoarthritis is particularly prevalent among the more aged people in society who have made long usage of their joints.
Impact of osteoarthritis
Patients in the study were aged from 49 to 83, and almost all of them had joint problems in their lower extremities, although all of them were considered to be free of disabilities at the beginning of the study. Many had begun to feel the occasional stiffness or pain associated with osteoarthritis, as the cartilage between the bones of the joints had begun to wear down, causing joints to rub against each other. Osteoarthritis is known as the ‘wear and tear’ type of arthritis, simply because it involves years of joint usage, and the gradual wearing down of the cartilage buffers in between the bones.
How the study was conducted
All participants were monitored for their levels of physical activity during the four-year period, and all were interviewed every other year during that time frame. At the end of the study, it was determined that those individuals who logged at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise in every one of the weeks of the study had an 86% lower risk of being disabled, compared to those who got less exercise. Although the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention advocates at least 150 minutes of fairly moderate exercise each week for people troubles with arthritis, the study results seem to indicate that at least 60 minutes can be highly effective as well.
The CDC has long monitored the practices of American adults and has found that in approximately half of all cases, older adults exercise considerably less than they should. As a result, many of these individuals eventually become disabled, as their joint problems become more pronounced, and they become less inclined to perform any activities. This study recently conducted represents the first systematic approach to identifying a minimum threshold of exercise time which would be needed to stave off the effects of disability. The importance of these findings is critical toward encouraging seniors to strive to achieve at least a minimal level of activity, so they can prevent the onset of disability.
The takeaway for older adults
The main takeaway for older adults from this critical study should be very clear: it is essential to maintain some level of activity in order to prevent the onset of disability and a much more limited lifestyle. The fact that even one hour a week of moderate exercise can help to stave off the effects of eventual disability, should be a motivating factor that causes all older adults to become involved on a regular basis. This is an activity objective which is very achievable for older adults in almost any level of fitness, and once begun, it can even improve the level of fitness fairly rapidly.
There are a number of ways that older adults can strive toward achieving the minimum of one hour per week, including walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, and even activities around the household. The main point is to simply commit to participating in at least an hour of moderate activity every week and sticking to that schedule indefinitely. The key to maintaining independence among older adults is to avoid becoming disabled, and one of the best ways to accomplish that avoidance is by committing to a lifelong schedule of regular activity, which almost everyone should be capable of.