As thousands of seniors who were previously shielding come out of lockdown, many may feel the effects of lack of movement more significantly than ever before. It’s not only those shielding either, many seniors will also have been either working from home or have hardly left in four months.
Without the movement and exercise that may have previously kept seniors active, many may be suffering significant pain, discomfort, stiffness and inflexibility as a result. Physios, masseuses, acupuncturists and osteopaths might see an uptick in appointment requests from previously healthy individuals, now seeking help.
Facing the natural loss of muscle
After the age of 30, the body’s muscle mass starts decreasing as the natural ageing process progresses. This loss of muscle mass is called sarcopenia and it’s this gradual loss that leads to frailty, falls and disability in older generations. After the age of 60, the rate of decline increases significantly, making seniors particularly in need of strength training.
Strength training helps build muscle mass and counteract age-related impairments. The longer seniors can retain strength and balance, the more function and good health they may be able to enjoy later into life.
Look no further than resistance bands
Many seniors are ordinarily active with wide-ranging movement-based hobbies. However, because lockdown has been so extensive, they might be re-starting those activities and discovering that their bodies simply aren’t working as well, that their strength isn’t what it was before and that they’ve lost flexibility.
Combine that with a usually more sedentary winter which immediately preceded the lockdown and the negative effects could be huge.
So, what can you do about this new semi-enforced sedentary discomfort?
Resistance bands are one of the best ways that seniors can regain strength, flexibility and range of movement – all from the comfort of their homes and without spending much money at all.
Studies have shown that resistance band training is just as effective as traditional weight training for both upper and lower limbs. Strength training in general is also shown to potentially reduce risk factors for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Even small gains in strength and motion can have huge effects for seniors, specifically in allowing them to retain their independence and improving their mental health.
How to encourage your clients to start using resistance bands
If you’re a physiotherapist or you work in a health field that requires your patients to do at-home exercise, you’ll probably be aware that adherence is one of the biggest problems. Patients who don’t follow prescribed home exercises naturally don’t gain the benefit and it makes their progress considerably harder to track, particularly if they only sporadically comply.
A study has shown that adherence is more likely if two exercises are prescribed than four or more. Of course, just giving your patients two resistance band exercises to do might not seem like enough variation, but when you consider that prescribing more exercises might lead them to do none at all, two is considerably better.
Barriers to adherence can include:
- Personal beliefs
- Lack of time
- Social support
By talking to your patients, you may be able to identify which barriers could stop them from completing their resistance band exercises and work with them to overcome any obstacles. For example, having them anchor their exercises to a particular time of day could help them remind and make the time to do them.
Choosing the right resistance bands
Providing your patients with resistance bands is another important step in supporting them in regaining their strength and mobility. While tear-off latex bands are popular for their affordability, they can offer challenges for seniors.
Latex bands degrade, feel sticky, slip from grip, rub against hairs and can make it tough to find the right resistance level.
Instead, our sister brand, Meridius, stocks our very own Spoband design, which comes in several different resistance ranges, have inbuilt loops to choose accurate resistance points and are easy to wash. As they have an outer made of cotton, they’re nice to hold and don’t slip out of the hand.
You can recommend a particular Spoband after assessing your individual clients’ needs and be safe in the knowledge that they’ll be using the right resistance for their needs. This takes away the variables in resistance levels and can make it easier to measure progress and adjust resistance.
Getting seniors back on their feet
The pandemic has been a difficult environment for everyone but seniors are disproportionately affected, not just from their own risk from Covid-19, but from the sedentary lifestyle that lockdown encouraged.
Resistance band exercises are simple to prescribe and can be done easily every day, without needing supervision or any equipment other than a band. Endlessly versatile and adjustable, resistance bands really are the perfect tool for seniors who would benefit from strength training.
You can buy our Spobands or latex resistance bands direct from our website. See our full range of resistance bands here.