The Best Ways for Nursing Home Residents to Stay Active

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The Best Ways for Nursing Home Residents to Stay Active

Physical limitations shouldn’t stand in the way of living well.

By Michael O. Schroeder, Staff Writer July 19, 2016By Michael O. Schroeder, Staff Writer July 19, 2016, at 12:00 p.m. MoreView all in one page1 of 9Daily stretching exercise routine for a group of cheerful elderly people at an old age home. Credit

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No one exercise fits all.

The first rule is there’s no hard-and-fast rule. Jean Abustan, director of therapy at Hughes Health & Rehabilitation in West Hartford, Connecticut, says every long-term nursing home resident has different strengths and limits. While some move briskly, others require assistance to walk or use a wheelchair. So before deciding if water aerobics or tai chi or light weights is a good fit, take personal factors into consideration. Abustan advises any nursing home resident first be evaluated by a doctor and a physical therapist or occupational therapist – taking medical conditions into account – to determine what exercises might be appropriate. “The important thing is that they move safely and make it a routine,” she says.

Next:Doing nothing isn’t safe.A caregiver talks to an elderly man who looks depressed. Credit

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Doing nothing isn’t safe.

Some loss of muscle strength with advancing age is inevitable, says Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko, a spokesman for the American College of Sport Medicine, and an exercise scientist whose research is focused on physical activity and aging. “But most of the decreases we find are due to physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles,” he says. Slowing down can raise one’s risk for everything from taking a serious fall to having a heart attack. Fortunately, staying on the move can help protect against health hazards, including the loss of muscle and strength. “There’s good research evidence that those declines can be prevented and also ameliorated through physical activity,” Chodzko-Zajko says.

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Michael O. Schroeder, Staff Writer

Michael O. Schroeder has been a health editor at U.S. News since 2015. He writes health stories… Read moreMichael O. Schroeder has been a health editor at U.S. News since 2015. He writes health stories on a wide range of topics from mental health to medication side effects, and he manages the blog For Parents.
Michael has reported on health and wellness since 2005, and he's also covered everything from business news to governmental affairs for various newspapers. His stories have also been published in HuffPost, MSN, Yahoo!, WTOP, The Washington Post and The Indianapolis Star. He's also an active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Michael has a bachelor’s degree in English from Wabash College and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.
You can follow him on Twitter or email him at mschroeder@usnews.com.

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