Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Movement for Health

© Lisa F. Young
Active Aging
Physical therapists are exercise experts, providing services for a wide range of people to optimize their physical ability. They prescribe exercise as part of a structured, safe and effective program.
An important part of their role is to help people remain active as they age. More than any other profession, physical therapists prevent and treat chronic disease and disability in aging adults through specifically prescribed activity and movement.
The World Health Organization encourages regular physical activity for older adults, because it has been shown to imporve the functional status and quality of life in this group of individuals.
It says that older adults should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity at least five days a week, if appropriate.
Improving functional ability
Older adults engaged in regular physical activity demonstrate improved:
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Coordination & Motor Control
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance

As a result, physical activity can reduce the risk of falls--a major cause of disability among older people.

Participation in regular exercise leads to older adults having higher levels of functional capabilities, greater independence & improved quality of life.

Preventing & treating non-communicable disease

Participation in regular physical activity can prevent or improve many non-communicable diseases prevalent in older adults:

  • Cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke)
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Osteoarthritis (a disease that causes joint swelling, pain & limits movement
  • Osteoporosis (a disease in which bones become fragile)

Being active from an early age can help prevent these non-communicable diseases, and regular movement & activity can also help relieve the disability and pain associated with them.

Improving mental health

Physical activity has been shown to improve mental health and cognitive function in older adults and contributes to the management of disorders, such as depression & anxiety. Active lifestyles often provide older persons with regular occasions to make new friendships, maintain social networks and interact with people of all ages.

Information provided by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy:

If you would like to learn more about how a physical therapist may help you, or someone you know, to age actively please click on the button below to ask a question.