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I'm a very big fan of exercise. I do it regularly—not to change the way I look—but because it has always been a huge help in combatting anxiety and depression for me. My mind always seems to settle or spin up when I am moving my body. I feel so good afterwards!


I recently read some interesting articles that said a study was published in Neurology that shows exercise actually does more for the brain than crossword puzzles: https://theweek.com/articles/471152/exercise-better-brain-than-crossword-puzzles. Based off my own experience and watching others age I fully believe this. The people I've known who live to be centennials and seem happy, have their days so busy I feel tired (but inspired) listening to them tell me about them. :)


So my question is this... What would be good ideas to nudge seniors out of the house to regularly walk or do something else that is gently active when they are depressed, sore, reclusive and do not live in an area that has a sidewalk?

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The local YMCA has several machines designed for seniors. My dad enjoyed the bike. There's velco straps for the feet & hands. It had a TV screen in front, too. The seat is low, so it was easy to get Dad on it. I was pleasantly surprised that he was going an average of 4 miles a day, sometimes up to 7 miles. When he got tired, Dad would stop & say, "I through."
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Reply to dads1caregiver
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Our local Mall encouraged people to use it for walking. There's a nice coffee shop in the book store. And a food court.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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My mother was never "into" exercise, not even walking around the block. Dad was a fitness nut.

As she's aged, it has become apparent that neglecting her "inner core" has caused great damage. She stayed in bed, most days, all day. For the last 50+ years. She had multiple surgeries, to the point nobody could keep track. None of them gave her a better quality of life, except maybe the hip surgery she had 3 years ago. She's had multiple back fusions, both knees replaced, appendix removed (it was fine, the Dr just got sick of seeing her for this phantom pain) and many, many other surgeries.

As a result, she is stooped over into the "C" curve you so often see. No bone density--even though she's been begging her ortho doc for another hip replacement, he simply told her he was going to fire her and would not perform any more surgeries. She went from a cane to a walker and another hip replacement would put her in a wheelchair, which she would love.

She would be compliant with after surgery PT. Always. Some hunky PT would come to the house and she'd flirt away (so embarrassing) and when the PT was "over" she'd fold right in half again. The PT's and docs all say her posture (lack thereof) is simply due to her lack of exercise and strength building exercises. We're talking 15 minutes a day, twice a day.

She's 89. She's been bent over like this for about the last 10 years, it gets worse all the time, but at some point, you simply don't notice.

One day I stopped by and she proudly pointed out that she had walked to the neighbors house (maybe 200 ft). I said "That's a great start!" Never happened again.

I do not know how she functions, day to day. She cannot lift her head. She can't see anything more than about 4' about the floor. She sits hunched over her table or her puzzle table all day. Walks maybe 500 steps a day.

I realize as I type this I am sitting ramrod straight in my office chair....

Her mother had impeccable posture--no matter what. She lived to 94 and walked up to 5 miles a day. If she couldn't walk, she got on her small stationary bike.

I think that aging simply catches up with us. I broke my foot over a year ago and life got in the way, so I didn't DO anything about it. Finally wound up in a knee high boot for 6 weeks....and it's healing. I got so sick of being in pain and not being able to keep up----I've had 2 back surgeries and made sure the dr knew I wanted to be able to bend over and touch the floor after each one--Bingo!

Yes, I am in chronic pain from the back surgeries, but am trying to not let it define me.

If mother had opted to get into her neighborhood "waling groups" she would have recouped so much better. As it was, she did in home PT and as soon as she could, she quit.

You can lead a horse to water---that would be mother. She was always told she was a frail and fragile little person. (She's not) and she used that DX from 1935 to "engineer" her life.

I gave up YEARS ago trying to get mother to DO anything. She's one fall from a wheelchair and a NH. Her apartment cannot handle a Wheelchair.
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Jannner Feb 10, 2019
It’s strange you found so many surgeons willing to do unnecessary surgeries and so many “hunky “ PTs. I’ve yet to have one, most of mine have been women.
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Bellaina, are you familiar with what is already around in your area?

I have noticed before now that there can be a tendency for people to think that "nothing is being done" when actually quite a lot is happening, it's just that they don't know about it. Are you sure there aren't walking groups, book clubs, swimming sessions, library lectures and so on?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Ooo... An indoor track is a wonderful idea...so much more quiet usually than a mall. I wonder if a local college would be willing to let someone walk on their track who isn't a student?

That is a very good point about senior programs. That used to be an issue with kids programs as well. Now there seems to be more variety in programs than there was when I was a child.

Perhaps people will start to *get it* for seniors as well. It seems like people should start to organize something for people who need something that is socially low-key but still active—like a senior birdwatching/hiking club or a senior walking group.
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Reply to BellainaWella
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It depends so much on the person's tastes and habits.

Music is good, singing is good, both of these things encourage movement and deeper breathing and better posture, which is half the battle, and can be done sitting if necessary.

If the person is fit and cognitively ok, a dog is excellent. I meet several people on my walks around the town who take much better care of their dogs than they do of themselves, and are out and about for one or two hours each day, minimum. One uses a rollator, one has a mobility scooter, one has been wearing the same jacket for three years but his two dogs are always smartly turned out. Dogs provide emotional input; plus even reclusive dog owners talk to other dog owners. But from an animal welfare point of view there does need to be a support network in case of emergency.

When you say there's no sidewalk... Are these dangerous, busy roads with no sidewalk, or do you just mean that the terrain is naturally rough?

Do you have one particular senior in mind that you would like to say a little more about?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Some of us are just naturally introverted and most programs for seniors are designed for the extrovert, having a recreational activity that doesn't involve a group activity would be helpful. Although still under 60 I'm single, childless and not working and I'm struggling with finding places to go and things to do - no, I'm not interested in pickleball or card parties. I would love to have a place with an indoor walking track and a nice cozy common area to grab a coffee and read a book, although some of our local towns do try to provide this lapping the ice at the local arena and using the grungy amenities available there just isn't very inviting.
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