Exercise is an essential part of staying healthy. A nutritious diet helps too. But when it comes to taking long-term care of elderly residents the benefits of walking trump all other health strategies.
As we get older and our range of movement becomes more restricted than it once was. It can be challenging to stand, stay firm and be mobile. Getting around safely means moving slower.
Once you hit a certain age, general forms of exercise are out of the question. That age will differ for everyone, but there comes a time when you have to give up playing your favourite sports such as football, tennis or aerobics. You’ll even have to give up swimming and golf at some point.
But one mode of exercise that champions all others when it comes to keeping active into your senior years is walking.
Science Proves Benefits of Walking
Walking might seem like a simple suggestion, but it is, in fact, the key to keeping limber, improving circulation, and feeling motivated.
As a matter of fact, a growing body of scientific research is proving that walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise – at any age.
Walking has been found to improve blood circulation, cardiovascular response, dementia, Alzheimer’s, gastrointestinal function diabetes and many more. It’s also been found to boost mood.
When creating bespoke long term care plans for elderly residents, walking should be a key part of the program. If a resident is able to walk and steady on their feet, they should be encouraged to be upwardly mobile.
As a matter of fact, city parks were inspired by the ill and infirm. In the late 1800’s, hospital gardens became a standard “therapeutic” feature of hospitals and care homes.
Gardens were intended to encourage patients to go walking. Being close to nature is also known to have healing qualities. It’s a universally beneficial exercise, because it improves mental and physical wellbeing, without placing undue strain on the body.
Moreover, walking is a low-entry exercise. Experts recommend walking between 2000 and 9000 steps a day for the elderly. As much as you can manage.
Benefits of Walking for Long-Term Care Residents
Physical activity increases your heart rate, which makes the heart pump blood around the body quicker, thus delivering oxygen and essential nutrients to your organs and muscles more effectively.
Maintains Core Strength
Walking requires balance – something we notice more as we get older. To stay upright, we switch on our core muscles. Having good core strength helps residents retain mobility, and makes things such as washing and getting out of bed easier.
Prevents Joint Stiffness
We’ve all experienced that unnerving crack of the knees or back after sitting in the same position all day. Movement lubricates the joints to reduce pain and inflammation, which is especially beneficial for residents already suffering from joint stiffness or arthritis.
Delivers your Daily Dose of Fresh Air and Vitamin D
Walking is thought to be the best exercise for our mental health, and you can see why. Getting outside in the open air helps residents get their daily dose of vitamin D, as well as feel rejuvenated by nature.
Maintains a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to keeping chronic health conditions under control, and preventing further complications.
How to Empower Care Residents to Walk Daily, Safely
Safety is key when it comes to ensuring care residents have the best possible exercise and wellness plan. As with other aspects of their tailored care, ensure each resident’s specific needs have been considered before prescribing a new activity.
If the resident is known to be unsteady on their feet, ensure they have use of a rollator, or can be accompanied by a member of staff to guide them around their route. It’s also a great idea to pick a route that offers benches or rest stops along the way. Even if the resident is mobile enough, the promise of a rest can be a good incentive to take a walk – especially if there’s a heart to heart or cup of tea on the cards!