There is a lot of factual evidence that the lack of physical activity in elderly contributes to a great number of health problems. Health is relevant to all elderly people aged 65 and more, in addition, prevention of injuries and cardiovascular diseases is the most important issues, According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “Many of the disease and disabling conditions associated with aging can be prevented, postpones or ameliorated with regular physical activity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996, p. 233).
Benefits of Physical Activity
In general, the health benefits of an active lifestyle for the elderly include management of various chronic diseases like diabetes or arthritis, improved blood cholesterol, and pressure, improved body health and body weight.
However, despite all the acknowledged benefits of improved physical activity in the elderly, the majority of older people are physically inactive. On the other hand, interventions and health promotions possess the power to increase the physical activity among the persons aged 65 and older. For instance, the increase in the healthy lifestyle has been supported by various campaigns in media, improved physical activities at home, as well as from various group activities (Ory, Hoffman, Hawkins, Sanner, & Mockenhaupt, 2003, p. 165).
Social Isolation of the Elderly
Ory, Hoffman, Hawkins, Sanner, and Mockenhaupt (2003) have suggested various ways of challenging the stereotypes connected with aging as well as encouraging increased physical activity in elderly. These ways include using the existing knowledge about the myths and realities connected with aging, creating various connections between the generations, intensifying the governmental actions as well as mobilizing public awareness campaigns (p. 169).
Another issue that deals with health promotion for the elderly is the social isolation that was closely linked to the dangerous health outcomes, including an increased risk of dying as well as an increased risk of cognitive impairment among the elderly (Michael, Birkman, Colditz, Holmes, & Kawachi, 2002, p. 286). The elderly that are isolated from the social environment are at the greater risk of dying in comparison to those who have active social experiences and various sources of emotional support. Age is the major aspect of the physical vulnerability of the elderly (Nickitas, Middaugh, & Aries, 2011, p. 33). As a result of physical effects of aging, the elderly are usually more susceptible to social isolation. Moreover, it has been shown that engaging in a bigger number of social contacts is linked to much lower morbidity levels as well as an increased life expectancy.
Promotion of Physical Activity
Given the lack of a comprehensive evaluation of health promotion projects targeted at the elderly, it is impossible to conclude the above overview of some strict guidelines on the best practices or suitable interventions. The fact that the elderly are not representative of a homogenous group, but “are a great variety of individuals who have already grown older, just as the rest of us will grow older” (Kendig, 1999, p. 3) is an important issue to keep in mind.
Based on the overview of the literature, it is evident that the promotion of physical activity in the elderly is the highest priority, as there are various health benefits acquired from being physically active. Moreover, there is factual support based on the above review for a strong connection between the physical, mental activity and the social engagement. The combination of social involvement as well as physical activity can be successfully incorporated into a health promotion plan.
Kendig, H. (1993). Housing for Life: Views from older people. Paper presented at the 1999 ACT Adaptable and Accessible Housing Conference. Canberra, Australia.
Michael, Y., Berkman, L., Colditz, G., Holmes, M., & Kawachi, I. (2002). Social networks and health-related quality of life in breast cancer survivors. A prospective study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 52(5), 285-293.
Nickitas, D., Middaugh, D., & Aries, N. (2011). Policy and Politics for Nurses and Other Health Professionals: Advocacy and Action. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Ory, M., Hoffman, M., Hawkins, M., Sanner, B., & Mockenhaupt, R. (2003). Challenging aging stereotypes. Strategies for creating a more active society. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(3), 164-171.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1996). Physical activity and health. A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.