The Importance of Physical Activity in a Senior Care Facility

Published In Mental Health & Well-Being

September 6th, 2015

Physical exercise is recommended for everybody, but perhaps no group of people is as positively affected by a physical activity plan as senior citizens. As the individual progressively ages, the role of maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual well-being becomes more important to their quality of life. Let’s take a look at the different ways in which senior citizens can be enriched by therapeutic activities of daily living.

Physical Well-Being

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a physical activity plan for senior citizens is the aspect of physical health. Age has a way of diminishing the health and vitality of an individual, and regular exercise and physical activity have a positive impact on the overall well-being of the elderly. The risk of falls, damaged joints, and muscle deterioration—and with that, impaired mobility—gradually progresses as seniors live longer. Regular exercise, such as sessions on improving balance, muscle strength, flexibility, and fitness, helps to minimize these risks and decrease the physical burdens associated with the aging process.

Emotional Well-Being

For many senior citizens, growing older is a significant source of depression. Other emotional problems that can accompany age include: heightened anxiety, stress, boredom, hopelessness, denial, problems with concentration, paranoia, confusion, and more. One of the greatest benefits to a regular program of exercise for senior citizens is the release of endorphins. This natural chemical released on a regular basis helps to prevent depression and to maintain a healthy emotional state of being.

Research shows that incorporating therapeutic activity and physical exercise into senior care will contribute to a more independent life as well as a higher level of functioning. Physical activity increases self-esteem and good mental health. The more a senior is encouraged to engage in regular physical exercise, the more likely she will feel a sense of accomplishment, more hope, and have a positive attitude toward herself.

Let’s not forget about the benefit of organized group activity. When senior citizens are involved in a series of exercises performed within an organized group, there exists a type of fellowship that helps seniors to feel a sense of camaraderie and support. Establishing ties with others in the group exercise program aids in instilling a sense of belonging, which is highly important when it comes to living in a senior care facility. The more comfortable an individual feels in his living arrangement and the people with whom he lives, the easier it is to engage in positive behaviors which sustain a healthy emotional outlook.

Spiritual Well-Being

Sometimes, in the secular world in which we live, it’s easy to overlook the importance of developing and maintaining spiritual health. Certain physical activities like yoga, tai chi, and breathing exercises are designed to incorporate mind, body, and spirit. These types of exercises are best when utilized as preparation for, or in conjunction with, prayer or meditation. When seniors are in “fit” spiritual condition (grounded, centered, and in touch with their feelings), there is less depression, and more serenity, hope, and peace of mind. These feelings help when it comes to accepting one’s mortality and preparing for the inevitable end of life.

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