The second topic we are featuring from the “Striking a Balance” conference is the importance of exercise for both the patient and the caregiver.
Certified personal trainer Barbara Fitzpatrick discussed the vast amount of research showing the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health. For instance, exercise strengthens the heart, helps to keep blood vessels flexible and open, increases lubrication to the cartilage of joints, increases blood flow to the skin and brain, and triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, which improves mood.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, which translates to 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, or three 10-minute sessions throughout a single day for five days a week. Moderate aerobic exercise can be brisk walking, swimming, cycling, and slow jogging.
Additionally, adults should incorporate strength exercises in their regimen targeting all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Examples of strength exercises include wall push-ups, free weights, resistance bands, and exercise machines.
An important reminder before starting an exercise program is to consult with your doctor. Fitzpatrick shared that one of her client's was able to reduce his blood pressure medicine after working with her; thus, showing the benefits of what implementing an exercise program can do. Also, just as important as exercise are good nutrition, sleep, and staying hydrated.
Several free online and in-person resources for caregivers and patients that provide exercise regimens for older adults, information on fall prevention, and stress reducing tips are:
- the Go4Life website,
- StrongWomen http://www.strongwomen.com/fitness/fitness-eprograms/, and
- CaregiverU through AGE of Central Texas, http://www.caregiverucentx.org.
You can also seek out programs and information at local senior centers and community agencies in your area. Get moving!