While I’m not a senior citizen yet (I have a few more decades before I reach that label), I do know what it’s like to have arthritis, and how it affects your level of activity. (When you’re told at 16 that you have the knees of a 40-year-old, it’s all downhill from there.)
While the initial reaction to the normal aches and pains of aging might be to sit back, figuratively and literally, it’s an important time to increase your activity. After all, as I’ve written before for the pqBlog, exercise can reduce the effects of arthritis, while preventing and reducing such problems as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It’s just a matter of changing those habits and starting to move.
How physical therapists can help seniors increase activity for healthy aging
Aging isn’t fun for anyone. Your memory starts to fade, your body slows down and gains weight, and your joints start to stiffen. And while no one can reverse or stop the aging process, one of the best ways to reduce the speed at which your body is changing is to be more active.
“As the years go by, staying active becomes one of the key factors in staying independent, pain-free and feeling good,” says Randy Gustafson, a physical therapist and the owner of Physiquality member Mesa Physical Therapy in San Diego, California. Exercise is known to help prevent and reduce such problems as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, along with its more obvious benefits of increasing strength and reducing — or at least maintaining — weight. And, Randy points out, better health from increased activity often allows patients to reduce their reliance on some medications, allowing patients to take them less frequently or sometimes quit them altogether.