Posts Tagged "exercise"

Osteoporosis and Bone Health

Posted by on Mar 1, 2021 in Health Signals |

 According to Osteoporosis Canada, at least 1.4 million Canadians over the age of 50 – one in four women and one in eight men  – suffer from this disease. What is osteoporosis? This disease has been called the “silent thief” because you may not experience any symptoms until a fracture occurs. Literally meaning “porous bones”, osteoporosis is a disease in which bones lose density, becoming more porous and therefore more fragile. What are the risks? More porous bones can lead to increased risk of fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist. Of the more than 25,000 hip fractures reported annually, 70% are caused by osteoporosis. Loss of bone strength also shortens the spine; thus seniors get shorter as they age. (Have you noticed that you or your parents seem to be shrinking?) In addition to aging, here are the other risk factors for decreased bone density: §  Body size: small weight and small bones §  Family history of osteoporosis §  Medical conditions that reduce the absorption of nutrients such as calcium §  Some drug treatments, such as prednisone §  Lifestyle: low calcium intake, excessive caffeine and alcohol use; and smoking. To continue “standing tall”, here’s what you can do to lower your risk:  1.    Consider taking a calcium supplement and Vitamin D if you’re not getting enough from food. Your pharmacist can help you select a supplement that is right for you. Choose a product with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or General Product (GP) number. This indicates that the product meets Canadian quality standards. If you are curious about the absorption of a specific calcium product, place a tablet in vinegar – it should disintegrate within 30 minutes. 2.    Engage in regular physical activity. Both weight bearing and strength training exercise can help improve bone health. 3.    Talk to your doctor about Bone Mineral Density (BMD) testing. To learn more, visit Osteoporosis Canada to find information on the latest research, programs and to find the center nearest you. Vol. 2, No. 23; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s “go to” place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.        ...

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Exercise for Healthy Hearts

Posted by on Sep 9, 2021 in Staying Active |

Exercise is good for us, right?  Most of us believe physical fitness will help keep us healthy, especially as we age. Some of the benefits are: Combating depression and anxiety Keeping bones, muscles and joints functioning well Improved cholesterol levels Helping to reduce body weight and body fat Helping the cardiovascular system to work more efficiently Reducing the risk of high blood pressure AND…of heart disease!  Exercise has many benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system. But what kind of exercise?  Here are some simple ways to increase your everyday activity and work your heart for healthy results: Increase the amount you walk, e.g., park your car further from the door when shopping. Get up and move every hour. Stretch during commercial breaks while watching TV. Take the stairs - not the escalator or elevator.  Everyday activities you may not think of - like gardening and housework - also qualify  as exercise and  contribute to heart health. You don’t need an hour-long exercise regimen to help your health and your heart.  If you can’t manage 30 to 40 minutes continuously, break that down into ten-minute segments of light exercise such as walking. If you have not been exercising for a while, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that you aim to start at 15 minutes every other day and work up from there. Staying motivated is the key. Make a plan. Don’t just say you will exercise if you feel like it…because you may never feel like it! Read up on exercise and health. Get ideas about new activities to try or new ways of doing activities you already like. Take a course in a new activity.  Spending the money for the course and having a group to support you and to learn with can be inspiring. Start exercising with a friend or neighbour.  Your partner can help you stay the course when your commitment is low. Exercising with a companion can feel more social and less like drudgery. Pick activities you like. Running may provide a good cardiovascular workout, but if you hate it you are far less likely to keep doing it. Make a six-week commitment.  Some exercise specialists believe you will notice results from an exercise program within 6 weeks.  Seeing those results can help keep you going - but you need to get to the six-week mark!  The risks and prevalence of heart disease are too great for mid-life adults and seniors to ignore. Embracing an active lifestyle is one of the best preventive measures we can take.  For more information, visit these web sites: Exercise for your Health: Benefits and How-To’s Canadian Diabetes Association, exploring links between diabetes and heart disease. Try the quiz on heart health and heart disease at   Vol.3, No. 4 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our...

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Family Helps Rehab after Stroke

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Health Care Team and System, Health Emergencies |

  After injury or disease strikes, a structured program of rehabilitation therapy can restore a part of the body or a person to normal or near-normal function. The goal of a rehabilitation program is to help someone become as independent as possible and to function despite a disability.  Rehabilitation may focus either on multiple areas or be very specific. Physical rehabilitation activities and treatments may include: Exercise Electrical stimulation Massage Repetition and practice of daily activities; e.g., walking, climbing stairs These rehab activities can help the individual regain co-ordination, endurance, flexibility, mobility, and strength. Who needs it? In addition to stroke, some of the circumstances that call for rehabilitation therapy are: Acquired brain injury, including stroke and head injury Amputation Bone fracture Heart conditions Joint replacement Often, more than one type of rehabilitation therapy may be needed, meaning a team effort is called for. Who delivers it? Several professionals, trained in specific areas, may work together in the rehabilitation process. Their common goal is to help individuals to regain skills, learn new ones, and make the best use of remaining abilities. Occupational Therapist (OT): The OT will focus on everyday tasks, such as dressing and preparing meals. An OT sometimes recommends changes to the environment (e.g., bathroom grab bars) that encourage safety and independence.  Physiotherapist:  The “physio” teaches special exercises to help the individual improve balance, muscle control and strength, and to practice tasks such as walking and managing stairs. Recreational Therapist:  This professional can help an individual to plan new hobbies and interests, or to learn new or different ways to resume old ones. Speech-Language Therapist: This professional is trained in assessment of swallowing, and in assessing and treating speech and language problems. Some people regain the ability to speak within a few months. Early speech therapy can help the person make the most of the remaining language skills. Psychologist, social worker, or family therapist: These professionals specialize in assessing and treating emotional health issues. Counseling may assist the individual and the family to adapt to the changes that occur following the stroke. Families play an important role in enhancing the work of professional teams. Particularly in the case of stroke, early rehabilitation can dramatically improve recovery. Understanding the recovery process and knowing how to support a stroke patient while in hospital, and after discharge, can make a huge difference. For more insight on this topic, check out the ElderWise e-guide, “Enhancing Rehab After A Stroke”, available in our on-line store. Vol. 5, No. 10, © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

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Drawbacks of Bed Rest

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Caregiving, Health Care Team and System |

Sometimes acute injury or illness leaves a senior bedridden but too much bed rest can have negative health effects. For the older adult, bed rest or chair rest, even for a few days, can cause deconditioning; that is changes in muscle strength and muscle bulk that can result in dependence and  impairment in balance.  Muscle strength is important to perform daily activities.  For example, strength in the quadriceps (thigh muscle) is necessary to rise from a chair, independently. Loss of strength in the muscles of the ankle joint may result in falls. Deconditioning can result in a loss of independence that lasts long after the acute problem has been treated. How does deconditioning begin? The human body is designed for movement. It is also subject to the forces of gravity, so  that each move we make to stand and walk is a move against gravity.  When we are at rest, gravity doesn’t have its usual effect. Without this force to pull against, muscles and  bones get weaker. This weakness can lead to loss of muscle mass, muscle shortening, changes in the joints, changes in cognitive abilities, and reduced circulation. Keeping moving, even small steps or little stretches can make a big difference to recovery. How can you help? If you have a senior who is in hospital or a long-term care home, ask for a physiotherapist who can work with them to prevent deconditioning.  Many hospitals have programs designed to help.  Some even bring specialized equipment like a half-barrel or sling to help a senior in bed gently work their muscles. You can also ask the nursing staff to show you how to help the older adult do the exercises safely. As a family member, you can provide essential support and encouragement. If an exercise program is not offered or you have a senior who is at home and on bed rest, simple range of motion exercises can be done while lying in bed.  Start at the shoulders and work through all the joints of the body gently moving the limb through its normal range of movement.  These movements should be gentle and not cause strain or pain.   1. Make circles with the arms and straighten and bend the elbow.  Rotate the wrists. Open the hand and then make a fist. 2. To help hips remain loose, lift the leg and move it away from the body, then return it to rest. 3. Bend and straighten the knee. If the person is able, bring the knee toward the chest and then return the leg to rest on the bed. 4. Rotate the foot in a full circle. Reverse the direction. 5. Even sitting up in bed a few times can help the muscles, since multiple muscle groups are required to move from a lying to a seated position.  Sometimes we feel a person is safer lying quietly in a bed, and when bed rest is required it can be just what the doctor ordered.  However, we should change our view that bed rest means complete rest.  It should include working the muscles and bones that were designed to be in motion. Vol. 3, No. 23 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE bi-weekly...

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