Chronic pain can be the culprit of diminished quality of life for many seniors. The rate of chronic pain sufferers above the age of 65 is cited to be as high as 60-75%. As individuals age, they may find that they become more sedentary for a variety of reasons, such as working from a desk and finding less time to be active during the week. Once advanced age is reached, pain can become a barrier to exercise altogether.
With a lack of exercise, seniors may begin to experience higher rates of depression, mood swings, and decreasing levels of strength and mobility. This has the potential to affect daily tasks such as spending time with family, running errands, or even participating in hobbies.
Studies have shown that exercise can be a self-management strategy for chronic pain. Joint and muscle pain, especially prevalent in seniors with osteoporosis or arthritis, may decrease by 25% in those who exercise for two or more hours a week when compared to their sedentary counterparts.
For older adults, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, along with a session or two of strength training. This can equate to several half-hour walks each week or going for a jog a few mornings. Resistance training can help to improve strength and maintain flexibility and balance, decreasing the risk of falls and broken bones.
This may seem out of reach for seniors suffering from chronic lower back pain, joint osteoarthritis, or pain related to diabetes. However, any type of movement that takes a senior from sedentary to active is beneficial to pain management, as remaining still can exacerbate chronic pain symptoms.
An increase in physical activity has the potential to significantly diminish ongoing pain, as well as allow the body to form adaptive responses to common pain triggers. Once the barrier to participation is overcome, seniors see vastly improved well-being.
Exercise can help to:
Physical activity doesn’t have to be defined as going for a run or lifting heavy weights. For seniors, any form of body movement is beneficial to both short and long-term health. Practicing a regular exercise regimen, allows seniors confidence to increase as they begin to manage their pain. At the end of the day, seniors need to remain as physically active as their current abilities allow them to be. Here are a few tips for staying active!
Priority Life Care Senior Living Communities offer daily exercise classes as well as social events that can keep you moving. Classes are easily modified to accommodate any level of fitness. It’s a great way to keep active and find a fitness buddy to keep you motivated. If you are looking to do a specific type of exercise that is not offered, let the Life Enrichment Director know! We often find if one person is asking for something specific, there are other like-minded individuals who will also participate. Visit a Priority Life Care community today to see what is available for you.