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This study says exercising can help your parents live longer by reducing muscle loss

Published on:20 July 2020, 16:59pm IST
Who said exercising is only meant for the young? Your parents need it too, especially to keep their muscle mass intact.
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Make your parents start with simpler exercises. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Getting your parents to exercise can be a task. Even if they do show some inclination, it’s mostly towards brisk walking. Although that’s not a bad option, it is a proven fact that simple exercise variations can help our parents deal with old age problems like muscle ache and joint pain with ease.

In fact, according to a paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, physical activity among older people reduces the risk of chronic diseases, weakened muscles, and frailty.

Elderly who are physically inactive are prone to covid-19, says the study
Since exercise has a role to play in immunity, this study from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil recently reported on the dangers of physical inactivity for older adults during covid-19. 

They noted that it only takes five to 10 days of physical inactivity for your muscles to begin shrinking and wasting away. This can speed the progression of sarcopenia (muscle loss) and can lead to chronic diseases.

The elderly should walk at least 1,500 steps a day
Staying active doesn’t mean that you need to jump and hop. Walking also works for the elderly. Studies also show that older adults who walk fewer than 1,500 steps a day can lose up to four per cent of their muscle tissue in their legs in just two weeks.

Although it is too soon to know how the covid-19 pandemic will impact physical activity, researchers say that wearable trackers provide early estimates. Information from 30 million users worldwide estimates a 12% step-count decline in the United States (comparing the week of March 22, between 2019 and 2020), and an even greater decline in other countries.

Simple resistance training can help in improving muscle mass in the old age group
Researchers suggest that resistance exercise is a classic and proven method to increase muscle mass, strength, and mobility, even for people in their 90s.

ageing parents mental health
Help your parents pursue their fun hobbies such as learning yoga. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Having an adequate amount of muscle mass enables you to be strong; being weak or frail is a known risk factor for death in older adults. Two weeks of inactivity (a 75% daily step reduction) has been shown to decrease muscle strength by eight per cent–and studies show that two weeks of rehabilitation exercises did not help people rebuild their muscle strength.

What’s more, in addition to its impact on muscle mass and function, reducing steps to between 1,000 to 1,500 steps per day has been shown to raise blood sugar and increase inflammation.

Exercise programs you can do at home are especially important during isolation and are a good way to maintain or even improve your muscle health and mobility. Exercise also helps prevent falls, a common cause of disability, and hospitalisation for older adults.

So, you need to educate your parents about the benefits of exercising
The researchers suggest that health education for older adults should include recommendations to introduce light activity into daily routines, focusing on sitting less and moving more, which is particularly important for people with mobility issues.

strong relationships and exercise
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Here are three good ways to get to them to move:

1. Interrupt prolonged sitting time by taking strolling or standing breaks (such as moving around during commercials while watching TV).

2. Performing light household chores like cleaning and gardening and enjoying leisure activities such as dancing or short-distance walking.

4. Joining family members in-person (when safe) or remotely by FaceTime or Zoom to stay active and gain emotional support.

So, the bottom line is that if your parents resist exercising then convince them and show them this report to prove how good exercising is for them.

(With inputs from ANI)

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