Tuesday June 20 2017

Exercise guide for the elderly

Group exercises offer motivation and encouragement to the members.

People take on group exercises. Photo by Rachel Mabala 

By Derrick Wandera

As one advances in age (65 and above), so does the whole body especially the bones and muscles. A well thought out and recommended exercise routine will be of great advantage to the elderly. there are recommendations on what needs to be done.

What the experts say
For an elderly person to start an exercise routine, it is important that they seek doctor’s advice. This is to help them know their weaknesses and strengths and devise exercise routines based on this.
Dr Regina Ngondwe, a physiotherapist at TMT Medical centre in Wandegeya takes us through suitable exercises for the elderly;

Aerobics and endurance
Walking, cycling and swimming are all examples of cardio/endurance exercises. These increases the body’s ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and remove waste over sustained periods of time.

Strength and resistance
The elderly can do strength training with weights, resistance bands or by using walls, the floor and furniture for resistance. Strength training helps prevent loss of bone mass and improves balance. This will help seniors avoid falls and broken bones.

Stretching and flexibility
Activities such as yoga or pilates can provide both useful stretches and strength training because they focus on isolating and developing different muscle groups.

Practicing pattern
Dr Solomon Kasozi says for the elderly who have never done any kind of exercises and would like to begin, it is advisable to start small because if they over strain themselves at the start, they may be discouraged to continue.
“Start with a simple jog around your compound or play around with your pet for at least 30 minutes. After sweating, take a warm bath to relax your muscles,” advices Kasozi. He adds that one should make it a routine to exercise at least three times a week so that the body gets used to the routine.

Personal experiences
When Denis Nakana, 72, retired as a civil servant in 2014, he embarked on keeping his body fit. At first, he only went for a trek for about a week. He switched things up and started jogging but when he realised he was not going as fast as he wanted, he started cycling sessions.
“The beginning was difficult. My muscles would get tense and I would have a tingling sensation in my calf and thighs. When this happened, I would stop for some time to relax my muscles before continuing,” says Nakana.
While it seems hard for others, at 80, Mzee Francisco Datemwa of Kisalosalo Zone in Kyebando says he still has his grip on evening drills.
“I am faster than some people in their 30s. I keep fit and agile,” Datemwa reaffirms before he goes to the ground to do two or three pushups.
Interestingly, unlike Datemwa who prefers physical exercise, some people would rather take up mental exercise. Steven Kakeeto, 58, prefers this. He chooses to task his brain with a puzzle or chess game.
“I prefer mentally challenging tasks. At the end, my mind is alert which helps me keep on top of many things,” the 58-year-old says.

Older adults aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do:
•at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week, and
•strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).