During this era of Coronavirus, the advice in the news is for seniors to isolate themselves in their home. Many nursing homes are actually making their residents stay in their rooms and not come out. That means no senior exercise programs!
For many seniors, that means they are either in their bed or in a chair watching television. Nearly 24 hours a day. Does that sound good for them?
Well, maybe in terms of physically keeping the virus away.
But not in terms of maintaining overall health.
And maintaining overall health means maintaining the immune system. Some studies have shown senior exercise boosts the immune system and cuts down on the number of colds and flus you contract.
Other studies have shown that people over 65 who moderately exercise on a regular basis had as many T-cells – a white blood cell that fights viruses as part of the immune system – as someone who is 30.
Tips About Senior Exercise
The exercise doesn’t have to be much. Just going for a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes a day can be enough. Gardening can be good senior exercise. Not to mention both of these activities will get you out in the sunshine and fresh air. We have several blog posts on the benefits of exercise for seniors.
If you do have a cold or the flu (or even the Coronavirus) you will want to follow your doctor’s recommendations for exercising. Make sure you don’t overdo it. If you can exercise, try to raise your body temperature. Just like a fever, your body is able to kill off a lot of viruses by raising the temperature. Helping your body raise the temp may mean you are done with the virus sooner.
Be careful about exercising too much when you’re sick. Pushing your body too much produces Cortisol – a stress hormone. Stress hormones can reduce the production of immune cells that kill viruses. Listen to your body (and your Doctor!). If you feel like you are pushing yourself too much, dial it back. This is especially true for an elderly person.
The best senior exercise is to vary what you do. No matter what your age it’s important to do some cardio, resistance training (weights), core exercises and stretching. Besides walking, seniors can use resistance bands for weights, and yoga and chair exercises for stretching and core exercises.
Exercise is one of many ways to keep seniors healthy and disease free. It should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Even if they are isolated due to the Pandemic, they should still be able to continue (or start) maintaining or improving their health.