Get Your Senior Citizen Physically Active

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

Getting my mom to exercise at her Assisted Living community is a challenge. They have a great fitness center there, but she shows so little interest. Any ideas to help me get her up and keep her physically active? —Brenda, Floral Park, NY

Dear Brenda,

What a great question. Keeping seniors exercising is paramount to their good health; but yes, the idea of breaking a sweat at the gym is not necessarily appealing to many seniors, particularly women. But have I got news for you, Brenda. Take mom to the mall!

That’s right. In a study recently released by The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers found that frequent shopping among seniors is good for them. It is associated with low-impact physical activity and helps them feel more involved in their communities. It’s all part of the popular “active aging” concept — the idea that staying active via physical, social and economic activity results in healthier aging. So, many long-term care providers regularly transport residents to retail venues. Here at The Bristal, for instance, we have The Bristal Bus.

Out of nearly 2,000 participants studied, it was determined that those that regularly shopped two to four times a week – about 22% of the study population – as well as others who shopped up to once-a-day, were 27% less likely to die than those who never shopped. Investigators wrote that “shopping is an excellent way to experience leisure time and physical activity,” though they cautioned seniors not to overreach. The act of shopping requires that seniors physically move from one place to another in order to handle money, make shopping decisions, carry packages, etc. All of these characteristics can be linked to promoting better health. Plus, Brenda — wink-wink! — it gives you a great excuse to get out to the mall, as well.

Maryellen McKeon

Source: McKnight’s Long Term Care News Online, April 8, 2011

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