Waiting for God

Effect of Activity

Physical Activity for End of Life

There is plenty of research that shows us that living a healthy, active lifestyle will prolong life.  Those who take good care of their minds, bodies and souls outlive those who don’t.  An excellent literature review published in 2012, can be found here. What is also becoming apparent, is that being active increases the quality of our lives as they end. 

 Exercise can reduce symptoms of terminal illness, it can also improve mood and overall quality of life. Staying active as long as possible is important.  It is equally important not to overdo it.   Aging bodies and minds require more recovery time.  Some form of movement should occur throughout the day.  Sitting up, getting up to go the bathroom, getting dressed every morning, and ready for bed every night, eating regular, healthy meals and attending activities with family and friends should be part of daily routine.  

Benefits of staying active help reduce symptoms like pain, fatigue, and constipation, give more energy and keep muscles stronger.  Staying active also helps with relaxation, improved mood and sleep, better mental health and improved mental fluidity and alertness. 

Exercise should be part of a weekly schedule for as long as the dependent senior is capable.  An occupational therapist can help make this as invigorating as possible.  Physiotherapists and personal trainers can also help develop an exercise routine that will not be too strenuous.  

Some exercises that could help those with good mobility.  If your dependent senior is in an assisted living facility, check to see what exercise programs are available.  

Benefits of Exercise

  • More independence 
    • Walking, bathing, cooking, using computers and even going to the toilet, all require basic mobility.
  • Better balance   
    • Exercise also reduces the risk of falls, which is a serious problem for seniors.
  • Increase health and resilience
  • Increased energy
  • Improved cognitive capacity

Recommended Exercise for Seniors

Some common sense must be exercised as well.  Not all seniors will be able to do the following.  Some may not be able to exercise at all.  A discussion with the family doctor would be a good way to assess what a dependent senior can do to get exercise. 

  • Aquafit
    • Excellent for joints and a full body workout without the risk of falling
    • Great cardiovascular workout
  • Chair Yoga
    • Improves strength, mobility, balance and flexibility all from a chair
    • Has been shown to improve mental health and sleep quality
  • Resistance band workouts
    • Reduces stress on the body while providing a relatively inexpensive resistance training
    • Great for core, posture, mobility and balance
  • Pilates
    • Low impact that emphasizes breathing, alignment, concentration and core strength
    • Uses pilates balls, mats and other accessories such as light weights
  • Tai-Chi
    • Improves lower body strength, and relieves physical effects of stress
    • Helps with arthritis pain and reduces blood pressure
    • Supports mind/body connection
  • Walking
    • One of the least stressful exercises, excellent cardiovascular and muscle strengthening
    • Should walk 10,000 (depending on person)
    • Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer
  • Body Weight Workout
    • Muscle loss is a major concern for seniors and body weight workouts are one of the best ways to offset muscle atrophy. 
    • Require clothes and a mat. 
  • Dumbbell Strength Training
    • Excellent to increase muscle mass and strength
    • Allows to isolate muscle groups while improving balance and flexibility