Today, there are over 22,000 assisted living facilities in the US that house over 700,000 residents and the numbers are steadily increasing. Traditional nursing homes offer standard services such as boarding, meals, medication and personal care but assisted living facilities have a wider range of services including social activities such as book clubs, movie nights and card games. Assisted living facilities focus on the physical, mental and emotional health of all residents to ensure that they have a higher level of independence and a better quality of life.
Many assisted living facilities have recognized the importance of exercise in order to maintain good health. These facilities offer a range of exercise programs that are available to residents depending on their current health status as well as their physical fitness goals.
Easy Assisted Living Exercise Programs for Seniors
1. Stretching Exercise Programs
Stretching exercise programs are among the easiest and best workouts for seniors as they help to improve flexibility and range of motion without placing undue stress on the joints. Stretching exercise programs at assisted living facilities focus on improving mobility, reducing pain and ensuring better quality of life. Stretching exercises do not require any equipment and can focus on specific areas that can benefit from physical therapy. Some of the most effective stretching exercises for seniors include shoulder and upper body stretches, hamstring and low back stretches and ankle circles. Practising stretching exercises on a regular basis can help to reduce low back pain and arthritis symptoms.
2. Seated Exercise Programs
Many assisted living exercise programs include seated exercises as they allow seniors to exercise without the danger of falling down. Seated exercises also limit energy expenditure which makes it ideal for seniors on a fibromyalgia treatment plan as this condition is associated with lower energy levels and fatigue. Seated exercises help to increase blood circulation and improve and build muscle tone. Seated exercises are also a good starting point for seniors who have not exercised for a prolonged period. Seated exercises such as knee lifts, tummy twists and seated forward bends are also great for increasing mobility and easing joint pain.
3. Water Aerobics Programs
Several assisted living facilities have recognized the importance of water aerobics programs for seniors. Water aerobics reduces the impact on joints which allows seniors to participate in a wider range of physical activities. Water also exerts hydrostatic pressure on the body when immersed in water – this pressure helps to decrease swelling in joints and alleviates joint pain. A study on the effectiveness of aquatic exercise in the management of musculoskeletal conditions found that these exercise programs have a beneficial effect on pain, physical function and overall quality of life for those suffering from these conditions.
4. Yoga and Pilates Sessions
Most assisted living facilities provide yoga and Pilates exercise programs for seniors. Yoga and Pilates are gentle exercises that can be modified to suit individual needs. These exercises can be performed while seated or lying down which makes it easier for people with reduced lower body strength. These exercises increase muscle strength and flexibility and maintain and improve mobility. Yoga breathing exercises also help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote overall mental and emotional health. These programs typically start slow and give seniors time to adjust to the routine before moving on to more challenging exercises.
5. Resistance Training
We associate resistance training and weight lifting with body builders but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that resistance training offers plenty of benefits for seniors as it helps to reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes. Resistance training can include weights or bands depending on the individual’s physical fitness levels. Many assisted living exercise programs for seniors include resistance training and cardio as each type of exercise offers different health benefits. Resistance training drastically increases fitness which also improves mental health as studies show that high fitness levels can delay dementia onset by almost a decade.
Most assisted living facilities offer a range of exercise programs for seniors. Residents often start off with easier exercise programs before moving on to more challenging programs. Individuals who suffer from weight issues are encouraged to follow a weight loss program to help them manage their weight and get fit. Exercise programs are designed to improve current fitness levels and prevent the future loss of muscle mass.
It is important to keep in mind that nursing facilities are heavily regulated by the federal government but assisted living facilities are only regulated by the states. This means that the quality of care and standard of living differs greatly from one state to the next. Unfortunately, this makes the process of finding the best assisted living facility for your specific requirements that much tougher. The decision to enter an assisted facility or to place a beloved family member in such a facility is often stressful. However, finding the right fit will allow you or your loved one to enjoy a healthy, socially active and happy life once again.
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