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What can I do to help my mom to exercise?

By Peter DiMaria

Home Care in Enfield

Article originally published by The Enfield Press*

It is sometimes a challenge for caregivers to find out a way to motivate elderly adults to exercise. Many seniors don’t exercise enough because they don’t appreciate the workout routines that are traditionally considered appropriate for their age. One excellent way to deal with this problem is to offer them the opportunity of engaging in dance classes.

Practically all of the senior centers in our region offer some varied options of dance classes, like Zumba, salsa, ballroom dance or ballet. They also promote regular dancing events. The fun and enjoyment that seniors get when participating in dance classes motivate them to stay engaged, turning it into part of their routine.

Besides being a way for elderly adults to get some exercise, it also helps them to socialize. The classes are usually conducted by a trained instructor who will create routines which are ideal for elderly dancers, making the exercise both fun and challenging, and providing benefits for physical and mental health.

With age, the body loses muscle mass and bone density. Exercise can increase strength, flexibility, and balance, giving seniors what they need to reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents. Regular dance classes also boost a person’s cardiovascular health and circulation.

Alzheimer's Care

Research has also shown that there is a correlation between exercise practice and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

As with any exercise, it is important to consult a doctor before starting, particularly if your mother has been sedentary for too long or has a history of heart disease.

Elderly Care: dance classes motivate seniors to stay engaged, turning it into part of their routine.

Here are some benefits of dancing:

Cardio-Respiratory

Like aerobics, dancing is a type of cardiovascular exercise and increases endurance when practiced frequently. Dancing improves circulation and increases the heart rate. Over time, the regular practice also leads to improvements in respiration and resistance. The choice of dance rhythm, style, and tempo should be related to the workout intensity that you are looking for, -or that the doctor recommended. There are different types of dance activity to fit almost any fitness level and capacity.

Bones, Muscles, and Ballance

Dancing is a low-impact exercise your mother can do even if she has limited mobility. If there are no physical limitations, you can find multiple dance exercise class options at many fitness centers, senior centers, or gyms. Some offer chair dancing for seniors with balance problems and mobility issues, as well as modified dance aerobics specifically for seniors. Another option is water aerobics dance, to reduce impact even more. Dancing increases bone density strengthens muscles, and helps to improve the balance, reducing the risk of falling. It can also increase flexibility, enhance the range of motion and reduce pain for arthritis patients.

Social Interaction

Dancing helps seniors to socialize, connect with new people, and prevent feelings of depression and isolation. Our Senior Center, for example, schedules regular dance events to help seniors stay active and to encourage seniors to make new friends.

* Home Helpers owner Peter DiMaria writes weekly for The Enfield Press and bi-weekly for the Journal Inquirer.

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