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The Best Therapeutic Exercises for Older People

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 27 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Therapeutic Exercise Therapist Sports

Therapeutic exercise is made up of a range of activities designed to improve or restore disorders in the nervous system, muscles, joints and the heart and lungs. Physical therapists can devise activities specifically for an individual’s disorder.

What Exactly is Therapeutic Exercise?

Therapeutic exercises are a range of physical activities that can help to restore neurological, musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary disorders. People who have these sorts of disorders can improve or restore functionality and well being through therapeutic exercise. Disorders and disabilities in older people may have occurred due to injury, illness and diseases and/or surgery. These exercises can also help prevent further damage or additional injury brought on from original disorders. The therapeutic exercise regime devised by a physical therapist will depend on the disability and the severity of the disorder.

Considerations before Undertaking Therapeutic Exercise

There are certain considerations and precautions before starting any therapeutic exercise programme. The physical condition and the severity of the individual’s disorder will be a major factor in the advised activities. Age, ability and how long the individual has been recovering will also be considerations. Physical therapists will use a range of deciding factors and analyse each client in order to implement the correct activities. Therapeutic exercise can range from simple breathing exercises to resistance training depending on the disorder.

Common Therapeutic Exercises for Back Pain

Back pain is a common disorder for many people regardless of age. Severe or chronic lower back pain is usually an indicator of weak muscles. An exercise regime of strengthening and stretching the muscles can help to restore functionality. Lying on the floor and undertaking simple exercises such as leg sliding will help to strengthen and stretch the muscles. Sports activities such as swimming and gentle running are also excellent sports for strengthening back muscles.

Endurance Exercises for Muscles

Endurance exercises help to develop and maintain muscle strength over extended periods of time. Body endurance developed over a period of time will help individuals to participate in particular activities such as jogging and aerobics. Large groups of muscles will be exercised usually for at least 15 minute periods. Endurance training is particularly good for improving heart and lung and pulmonary fitness. Building up a simple daily walking routine is one of the best endurance exercises for muscular problems.

Therapeutic Exercises for Balance

Balance and coordination problems can be addressed through certain therapeutic exercises. Balance and coordination can be related to neurological and orthopaedic disorders and injuries to the muscles, joints and nerves. Therapeutic exercise focuses on balance, motion, strength and endurance. Walking, stair climbing, jumping and jogging are some of the best exercises. Exercising in swimming pools is also a great way to help correct balance and coordination problems.

The Best Therapeutic Sports Exercises

Sports activities are an excellent way to exercise, and certain activities will help to address problems with muscles, the nervous system and cardiopulmonary problems. Older people should always consult a physical therapist as to the correct activities and level of exercise for their disorders. Sports activities for older people can include:

  • Walking, jogging and stair walking
  • Tennis, golf, bowling and swimming
  • Aerobics and water aerobics, yoga and cycling
  • Light weight training

The Results of Therapeutic Exercise

The results from a therapeutic exercise programme will depend on the severity and type of individual disorder. The main goal is to increase physical functionality if surgery has been undertaken or the patient had undergone some form of trauma. Patients who have had illnesses can use therapeutic exercises to help decrease loss of function from the progress of certain diseases. Therapeutic exercise can also help to prevent future disabilities and help to decrease functional impairments.

An individual physical therapist or one who is part of a health care team will be able to assess the best therapeutic exercises for individuals. Physical therapists will monitor and assist patients throughout the exercise plan. Therapeutic exercises are not quick fixes, and trial and error may be required to find the correct level of exercise required. Professional medical advice should always be taken before starting any therapeutic exercise routine.

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