A little bit more exercise – only 48 minutes per week – can help older people stay mobile and healthy, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Tufts University found that people ages 70 to 89 who live a sedentary lifestyle can make an impact on their mobility and overall health with just 48 extra minutes of movement every week. In the study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers analyzed data from 1,635 men and women over about 2.6 years. Everyone who added some physical activity saw improvement, but those who got more exercise saw greater changes.
The findings make a lot of sense to Mark Chanaca, a physical therapist with Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services at Myrtle Beach.
“Generally speaking, older patients who are more active tend to be stronger, have better balance and flexibility, and benefit from overall better health,” says Chanaca, who has a master’s degree in physical therapy and is a certified orthopedic manual therapist. “We always encourage folks to carve out some of their day for an appropriate form of exercise.”
At Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services, Chanaca helps patients work through injury and improve their mobility on a daily basis.
Many older patients who come for help have fallen and struggled to get up, or find it difficult to traverse stairs, Chanaca said. The risks of such mobility problems are serious because falls are the leading cause of death from injury among seniors. Fitness from exercise can help prevent this hazard.
For people who have noticed a decline mobility, Chanaca recommends walking as a primary form of exercise– so long as you can do so safely. There’s no need for a gym membership or a treadmill.
If the weather is poor, Chanaca said folks can walk inside a local mall.
“It’s simple and doesn’t require any special kind of equipment,” Chanaca says.
People who struggle to use stairs or have other mobility concerns should talk to a physician for advice, he said. Some people may need physical therapy or another type of support, at least temporarily while they regain strength.