No matter who you are or what walk of life you come from, the value of daily physical activity cannot be overstated. Research has shown that exercise not only makes for a stronger body, but also a healthier, sharper mind. It is shown to combat boredom and depression and to be a positive outlet for those suffering from feelings of frustration, mental/creative blocks, and even Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The health benefits of exercise take on an added dimension when working with the elderly and infirm. Different disabilities—and the aging process in general—can have drastic effects on body, mind, and soul, and can often result in frustration, depression, physical decline, and an all-around sense of impotence and malaise. By ensuring that patients are getting adequate exercise, we can take steps towards improving their standard of living, physical health, and mental and spiritual well-being.
It is important to accommodate the various physical limitations of patients. While some may be capable of exercising independently in a home gym or going for long hikes or bike rides, others may need the direct supervision of personal trainers and physical therapists. Some may only be capable of going on slow walks, while those limited to wheel chair ambulation may need to focus instead on upper body strengthening or pool activities. No matter one’s situation, there is always a way to get exercise. The important thing is to have a consistent, structured routine that provides motivation and inspiration. By providing outlets for physical exercise, we as caregivers are providing not only improved health and fitness, but also a sense of independence and freedom that will go a long way towards establishing the dignity and autonomy that are essential to a healthy, happy existence.