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Essential Exercises for Seniors - Health Care for Aging Adults

Updated on October 4, 2015

We have recognized that children need 60 minutes of activity per day. We now have the NFL actively promoting this but perhaps the most important mountain we must climb to forever change the paradigm of fitness is the hospital and clinic environment. We encourage patients to use the wheelchair, we don't take the time to walk them down the hall. We prescribe medicine and physicians order expensive tests all the while the patient languishes in the hospital with little or no planned activity. Shouldn't health and prescriptions be tied directly to basic, daily exercises? If so, what exercise and why these specific exercises?

"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” Plato

Hippocratic Oath

Hippocratic Oath Taken by Physicians in Colorful Yellow Poster
Hippocratic Oath Taken by Physicians in Colorful Yellow Poster | Source

The best six doctors anywhere,

And no one can deny it,

Are sunshine, water, rest, and air,

Exercise and diet.

These six will gladly you attend,

If only you are willing,

Your mind they'll ease,

Your will they'll mend,

And charge you not a shilling.”

~ Wayne Fields

Service to Humanity or to the Dollars Tied to Prescriptions?

The purpose of the Hippocratic Oath in essence was to provide a moral pathway for physicians to conduct their medicine. The Hippocratic Oath is named after a man named Hippocrates who lived in the 5th century BC - yes it is that old. And the controversy over life and the various parts of medicine that come into question are not my concern - my main concern is the lack of prescription for exercise. How can a physician in good faith prescribe a drug with no prescription for exercise? Hasn't research proven the power of exercise?

If research has proven that a sedentary lifestyle is killing us, then why are we lacking a parallel program of prescribing medicine and prescribing exercise. Yes, we have made advances in therapy but we will not change our society until all of us - each and everyone of us, especially physician who are our designated leaders in health - lead us in promoting fitness.

If the NFL is on board with correcting the underlying problem in our society of obesity by promoting activity of 60 minutes a day with our youth, it is only right to ask where is the AMA? Where are the prescriptions and promotions for stretching, toning and cardiovascular exercise?

Why Exercises for Seniors Must be Prescribed

Graphical Example of the Extreme Cost of Slips and Falls
Graphical Example of the Extreme Cost of Slips and Falls | Source

Imagine We Could Reduce Slips and Falls

We have actively attacked drunk driving, we have identified the importance of activity in our youth, and risk managers have worked tirelessly to improve safety, yet for our aging seniors, prescriptions are given for drug but no prescription is given to the patient who has no core stability for walking and sometimes even standing is visibly daunting.

If an alcoholic came in drunk, the physician would have to address it. Now we have identified obesity as a worldwide epidemic, and we are just starting to identify inactivity as problematic. So the aging senior patient comes to the physician and a prescription for drugs is given but no daily prescription for exercise?

If the NFL can promote 60 minutes a day for children, how do we get the world view on activity as a health essential to become a fundamental standard?

John Lenin wrote a song about a better world - imagine. Imagine our aging seniors, exercising daily, walking and remaining agile both physically and mentally for decades longer than our parents' average lifespans?

Exercise Keeps Us Vibrant

Health and Happy Male and Female Exercising
Health and Happy Male and Female Exercising | Source

Why the Beginner Basic Exercises for Hospital Patients?

The essential answer is we need function well in life. Moving in and out of a car alone takes the use of our muscle. As we age our muscles tighten and sitting is truly our enemy. Our muscles are make to be used. We wouldn't deprive an animal of exercise, we wouldn't deprive our body of food, we have learned the importance of brushing our teeth daily but yet we register people into the hospital and let them sit there, lie there with no guidance as to the essential movements that are needed daily.

We must engage our core muscles for stability, we must stretch our leg muscles and our hip muscles. If you are over 50 you understand the tightness you feel in your hips after sitting for an extended period of time. These subtle reminders from our body should be translated into daily medical needs especially for our seniors admitted to the care of medical professionals in the hospital setting.

Listed below are a couple of items that I would place on the list of must do movements for the medical profession to mandate daily for patients at the hospital.

Yes, some patients are bound to the bed so their movements must be amended to the horizontal position.

The problem, the really big obstacle here is proper training. As any personal trainer knows the exercises must be customized to the client's needs and abilities.

The staff at the hospital should always maintain a certified personal trainer to assist with this customized programs.

Expensive you say? No, taking care of our health is never expensive - ignoring our health is the real expense. The best medicine is the natural medicine of stretching our muscles, increasing our heart rate and moving. The real joy in life is not wealth, it is in a body that is healthy and feels strong.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Group of Seniors Exercising in a Circle Standing one One Leg to Build the Core Muscles and Prevent Fallsblack and white diagram of wall push up with silhouette of a man silhouette of a woman exercising with leg lift targeting the buttocks and the hamstrings
A Group of Seniors Exercising in a Circle Standing one One Leg to Build the Core Muscles and Prevent Falls
A Group of Seniors Exercising in a Circle Standing one One Leg to Build the Core Muscles and Prevent Falls | Source
black and white diagram of wall push up with silhouette of a man
black and white diagram of wall push up with silhouette of a man | Source
silhouette of a woman exercising with leg lift targeting the buttocks and the hamstrings
silhouette of a woman exercising with leg lift targeting the buttocks and the hamstrings | Source

Beginner Basics

  1. Warm Up
  2. Flamingo - Left Leg then Right Leg
  3. Wall Push Ups
  4. Stretch
  5. Essential Leg Lifts 1 - Straight Back
  6. Essential Leg Lifts 2 - Lift to the Side
  7. Flamingo - Left Leg then Right Leg
  8. Tiny Turtle (modified slow squat)
  9. Ankle Twirls
  10. Cool Down Stretches

Specific Budgetary Considerations for Customized Medical Fitness Care

  • Retain a pool of certified personal trainers for not just the health center but also the hospital facility.
  • Provide each hospital patient with a fitness profile complete with a comparison of their personal resting heart rate and corresponding age and the local facility facility.
  • Provide each hospital patient with a daily prescription specific to the patient's physical abilities.
  • Provide each hospital patient with a diagnosis of their posture - both sitting and walking.
  • Provide each hospital patient with a grey outline of their body in comparison to a healthy body for their height and weight.

Call to Actions for Hospitals and Medical Facilities

1. To recognize the power of exercise as a medicine that CAN mend and strengthen the human body for health purposes.

2. To intertwine a customized program for all patients and employees of the hospital.

3. To intertwine the facility with movement and encourage walking and taking the stairs.

4. To recognize the importance of posture and how it affects our health.

5. To intertwine preventative care with traditional medical care.

6. To recognize the need for training in order to properly care for the patient and provide access to a certified personal trainers and also to customized visual guides of their posture and their current BMI body silhouette.

Good Posture Verses Poor Posture

visual silhouettes of poor and good posture examples
visual silhouettes of poor and good posture examples | Source

BMI Comparison

BMI Comparison Chart with purple background and white silhouette of normal to obese body images
BMI Comparison Chart with purple background and white silhouette of normal to obese body images | Source

Posture Diagnosis and BMI Comparison

Hospital care needs to take a more holistic view of the patient and include in their evaluation not just the temperature and blood type of the patient but also a diagnosis of their posture and provide a visual printout to the patient of both their actual posture and their actual BMI.

We have the technology now to provide this individual consultation very readily yet no one, not even Mayo Clinic is providing these life's essentials to patients.

Why is it important now? Because we have a larger population and because we have larger population who is aging.

Innovate Patient Care with BMI and Posture Silhouettes

Let's take our aging baby boomer population and turn the societal change into a positive. Imagine having a population of vibrant, active seniors who are strong and healthy. This is what we can achieve if we change the paradigm of fitness within the medical community and if we employ technology with a customized printout of each individual's BMI and posture.

Let's not hand out static numbers to patients, let's hand out a visual of what their specific BMI looks like in a silhouette. Let's hand out a specific silohuette of their posture in comparison to proper posture.

Ankles Are Essential to Our Seniors

Source

Advanced Exercises

Pilates and Core Muscles - Older Women Exercising on the Floor Engaging Her Core Muscles for Stability
Pilates and Core Muscles - Older Women Exercising on the Floor Engaging Her Core Muscles for Stability | Source

Cardio and Core

All the items are ancillary to our health and contribute but our core strength and our cardio really determine our strength and stamina.

Ever meet a frail elderly man or woman and notice the inability to stand in a sturdy manner?

Life's Essential Needs

Standing

Walking

Daily Care - grooming including bathing, washing your hair, etc..

Household Care - cleaning, vacuuming, etc..

Household Handyman - hanging pictures, fixing broken items, etc..

Active - golf, tennis, skating, hiking, etc...

Muscle Basics for Seniors

Muscle Group
Purpose
Examples
Ankles
S, W, DC, HC, HH, A
Daily Movement
Core
S, W, DC, HC, HH, A
Stability
Legs
S, W, DC, HC, HH, A
In and Out of the Car, etc.
Cardio
S, W, DC, HC, HH, A
Stamina, Endurance, Metabolism

S-Standing,

W-Walking,

DC-Daily Care such as grooming,

HC-Household Care - vacuuming, grocery, cooking, cleaning,

HH-Household Handyman - fixing, repairing,

A-active hobbies - golf, tennis, gardening

Advanced Core Exercises by ACE Fit

Advanced Pilates Core Exercises
Advanced Pilates Core Exercises | Source
Advanced Pilates Core Exercises
Advanced Pilates Core Exercises | Source

Change the Paradigm of Daily Exercise for ALL Adults and Include Hospital Patients

We need to change the paradigm of our lives and include exercise as a daily item not just for children but for all human beings.

Exercise - Fundamental Exercise and Therapy

It has been my experience both professionally as a certified personal trainer and in my own life that those seniors who are injured and go through therapy and then continue their "therapy" exercises are the most healthy.

The item is sad is that "therapy" is the individual's introduction to exercise. We need to change the paradigm of our lives and include exercise as a daily item not just for children but for all human beings.

The NFL has their promotion for healthy children and 60 minutes a day. Our hospitals need to promote fundamental exercises, an exercise program for all patients every day. Even those who are bedridden often are healthy enough for ankle twists and gentle stretches.

Balance Essentials for Aging Seniors

Fundamental Exercises

This video from ACE Fitness outlines nicely some potential exercises that are essential to the core. Just as a physician prescribes only a portion of drugs, so too not all exercises are appropriate for each individual. Yet all individual do need daily exercises for stability.

In this video you will not that the trainer provides us these guidelines:

  • Focus Upon Muscle Groups
  • Quality of Movement Not Quantity
  • Progression of Exercises

Ironically while the active individual does not need fundamental exercises, yet in the hospital setting all too often the patient is ill and their sickness has further accentuated their inactive lifestyle and served further DE-condition their muscle groups and yet the hospital allows the patient to be there for days without fundamental exercises.

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Should All Seniors Be Prescribed Daily Exercises by Physicians?

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New World Needed for Medical Treatments

We have a new world of technology with smart devices right in the palm of our hands, we need a new world order for health care.

We cannot afford to fix ailments and diseases - we must intertwine fitness with our professional medical staff and facilities and include preventative care and training.


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