Today is the 30th National Senior Health & Fitness Day®. National Senior Health & Fitness Day® is an annual health and wellness event for older adults. More than 100,000 older adults will participate in local health events across the country to promote the importance of regular physical activity, and to improve the health of older adults in their communities.
As we age, managing the everyday activities of daily living can become challenging. Some seniors may start the day off slow with stiff joints in the morning. Your range of motion, flexibility, or joint pain may limit you from reaching to grab the day’s clothes from the closet. The muscles in our legs can grow weak from sitting in a chair or resting majority of the day. A great way to keep our bodies functioning, reduce the risk of diseases, and prevent accidental falls is by moving and staying active.
Fitness and physical therapy work closely at times to help individuals pursue the highest quality of life possible. Both can consist of exercises for strengthening and stretching as well as activities to improve function and safety.
While the pair work well together, their goals and purpose differ a bit. Fitness is a lifestyle to be pursued and enjoyed. It is a long term and generalized strategy for the life of the individual. Therapy is a short term, specially designed plan to address specific limitations or deficits. Everyone has the need for fitness and wellness. Not all may need the specialized services of a skilled therapist, but it is important to know how fitness and rehab services work together.
Fitness and exercise play an important role in achieving wellness, which can be defined as the state or condition of being in good health. Fitness can assist with your physical wellness by strengthening our bones, muscles, and joints to maintain mobility and range of motion as well as the strength to participate in your favorite activities. Exercise can be performed individually and/or in group settings. Many seniors opt to participate in classes to not only enjoy the health benefits but also to enjoy the social aspects of participation with their peers. It also helps that motivation! Studies have shown that thirty minutes to an hour of exercise a day will help manage weight, improve mental health, boost thinking skills, and prevent the risk of future heart failure.
Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy are medically indicated to address deficits that would occur in day to day living. Therapy is typically ordered by a patient’s physician. A therapist will perform a thorough evaluation which may include strength testing, range of motion measurements, and posture analysis for example. These findings will then be weighed alongside the medical history of the patient to establish a treatment plan to meet the patient’s goals and reduce the deficits found in the evaluation. The plan will often include exercises to be performed at home to add to the treatments in the clinic to further the progress of the patient. During treatment from a licensed therapist, the patient will be closely monitored to ensure safety and effectiveness during treatments.
It is important to stay physically active throughout our lifetime. Fitness is beneficial to everyone at any age. Attending regular fitness classes is one way to stay in shape and have that camaraderie with your friends. And have no fear, rehab services are there if you have an injury, aches or pains, or having trouble completing activities in your daily life to help you get back to those activities that you enjoy.
Johnny Bass, PT, DPT, and KaShaun Jenkins, Fitness Specialist, work together in Senior Living assisting residents in their daily lives. Both have extensive experience working in the geriatric setting with the senior population. KaShaun keeps residents in their community fit and active and Johnny is available for any physical therapy needs they may have along the way.