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Individual changes in senior age
Senior age is characterized by physiological process of aging. Individual organ systems lower their capacity. If we speak, for example, about the circulatory system – the stroke volume decreases, the ability of pulse accelerating under the load, decreases too. The blood pressure rises, and the difference between the systolic and diastolic blood pressure grows as well. Breathing system, which is characterized by the correct function of midriff is influenced by decreasing pulmonary volumes, while the dead area and the residual volume increase.
Elderly people often have bigger pulmonary obstruction, especially the allergics, smokers and those who suffer from frequent bronchitis, the infectious decease of the pulmonary system.
During the whole lifetime the amount of bone mass decreases – the process is related to our movement activity.
Bone mass declining manifests itself as osteoporozis and therefore danger of fractures arises, mainly of the long bones and backbone vertebrae.
Another change is lowering flexibility, i.e. mobility of individual joints.
These are mainly movements of hip joints, lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints.
Decreasing movability influences the way of walking and worsens substantially the tolerance for load. Muscle dysbalance increases by weakening of large muscle groups, e.g. of deep abdominal muscles.
Pelvis is pushed the wrong way, which causes changes in the way we walk.
Low-quality walk worsens already starting arthritic changes mainly in the hip joint a knee joint areas. This causes decreasing mobility and increasing danger of other illnesses development like metabolic diseases caused by inactivity.
In senior age there is much larger number of circulatory system disease, mainly ischaemic heart disease, atherosclerosis and diseases characterized by higher blood pressure get worse.
Physical activities suitable for seniors
It is very important for seniors to keep their movability and ability to withstand some load. We consider quality walk the basic motion for fitness. Nordic walking (with walking sticks) is very suitable.
To be able to train walking, the organism must have locomotive system well prepared, so we recommend stabilization exercises and working out stabilization strength of lower limbs, and also working out for keeping stability of the body centre, which has impact on the walk and pelvis posture. We support all the activities that will activate these muscle structures, which will enable us adequate motion activity and motion patterns.
Also working out under certain load intensity is important, i.e. intensity of 50% difference between the resting and the maximal heart rate (we are speaking about 50% of so called heart beat reserve).
All activities, which do not overload the organism and are used to strengthen fitness and keep it at average level are suitable. These are just walking with sticks, water aerobics and hiking. Hiking in the mountains needs a prepared organism – fitness and also stabilization strength of lower limbs.
Sports, which are suitable for this age are those at which the person manages technique of those sports and does not overload locomotive system too much and which do not need sudden changes of motions just because of possible traumatic changes in muscle system.
Physical activities unsuitable for seniors
Chronic illness with health enfeeblement is a limiting factor for any motion activity. We cannot recommend performance-related sport activities for higher age. Too high motivation during competitive sport performance can overload and endanger an elderly person. Overloading heart and circulatory system can cause heart arrhythmia and at worst, sudden death. The organism can be damaged even by high load intensity, which does not meet its feasibilities. Muscle system often reacts to overloading by formation of micro-traumas (hardly discernable harms), by inflammation of muscle insertions, which restrict everyday life by emerging pains.
We rank among unsuitable activities the motion programmes without previous training and instructing on correct performance. That holds true even about walking programmes.
Unsuitable activities are also those with sudden changes of positions. These are e.g. frequent fast starts into various directions, jumps and jumping hard to the ground. These activities predominate in sports like tennis, squash and sport games. Without previous training and correct technique we cannot recommend these sports.
We rank among unsuitable demanding coordinating activities, acrobatic performances burdening nerve system, which can be source of stress and nerve fatigue.
Senior must also pay attention to the correct swimming technique. Swimming the breaststroke with a too big backward bend of head above water they overload the cervical spine and incite pains with a great risk of intervertebral disc prolapse.
We do not recommend motion activities with one-sided focus both in sport and in every-day life or working activities. These lead to overloading organism a developing muscle dysbalances.
Testing of seniors
Testing of seniors is very important at the beginning of any motion activity or any motion training.
We can divide testing into the laboratory one, which is characterized by exercise stress test with monitoring EKG curve, monitoring blood pressure and heart rate rising.
We also test, with great advantage, even pulmonary functions by so-called flow volume curve. We can find out whether the person does not have pulmonary obstruction or pulmonary restriction. We monitor also breathing during the exercise and rising of pulmonary functions, pulmonary volume and even ventilation under the exercise stress (air flow into and out of lungs). We also try to monitor blood pressure during check-ups at individual grades of exercise stress. Blood pressure should be rising. If it does not rise, the person is endangered by heart failure.
Another testing can be carried out in the field, e.g.:
– testing by walking through the corridor test, where we test the ability to keep heart rate and performance during a 6-minute walking test,
– check-up through so called step test, when we test reaction of heart rate followed by measuring blood pressure
– testing on so called standing kilometre, when we test the person during medium exercise stress, whether they tolerate one-kilometre walk at a certain standard speed and also whether they are able to keep recommended heart rate at adjusted subjective sensation during the exercise stress.
The person should not be short-winded, should be able to speak with somebody he is walking with, and thus we can be sure that he will not be overloaded. These forms of testing are very important and so is checking of their improvement.