Helping your clients to discover what physical activities they like best may be an important key to helping them stay active. Older adults who enjoy exercise the most are the most active, according to a study published in the American Journal of Health Behaviors (2008; 32 ; 570–82).
Older adults are incurring traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) from accidental falls, and 50% of unintentional fall deaths are related to TBIs, according to a June report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Most people think older adults may only break their hip when they fall, but our research shows that traumatic brain injuries can also be a serious consequence,” said Ileana Arias, PhD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Knowing who is most likely to drop out of a new exercise program can be valuable
information for wellness professionals. A recent study found that for seniors, health-related quality of life before starting a new program was the most predictive factor in determining whether or not they would stick with the regimen. Aspects of health-
related quality of life that were measured included depression and fatigue, among others.
Balance and gait disorders in older adults may be directly related to changes in the brain, according to a research report published in the March 18 issue of Neurology (2008; , 935–42). The 3-year study
involved 639 men and women aged 65–84 who were given brain scans and balance and walking tests. The scans revealed age-related, white-matter changes in all the participants. The changes were mild in 284
subjects, moderate in 197 subjects and severe in the remaining 158
As we age, our hearts beat more slowly and pump less blood. Our lung capacity also decreases. These changes result in decreased maximal oxygen consumption, which causes less oxygen to reach muscles. Oxygen is the life fuel for muscles; without it, they simply cannot work. The decrease in muscle oxygen consumption is one of the main reasons why we slow down, grow weak and lose stamina as we age. Without speed, strength and stamina, we cannot do the basic activities of daily living that allow us to enjoy life, maintain health and remain independent.
Here’s yet another carrot to offer to your older-adult clients. According to a recent review of studies from the Netherlands, cardiovascular exercise may offer people over 55 a boost in brainpower. Around age 50, even healthy older adults begin to experience mild declines in cognition, such as sporadic memory lapses and decreased ability to pay attention. Evidence shows that regular
exercise contributes to healthy aging, but could the type of exercise a person performs influence cognitive fitness?