EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM OF THE ELDERLY

Written by: Arlene Nysus, RN. BSc(Hons)O.S.H.E., CVQ Assessor Level 4

Being elderly is such a blessing for many reasons. Not only is it a testimony to the gift of life, it is a gift so many are denied because they passed away young. So being an elder is an honor. Let’s honor this blessing by improving the quality of life for our elderly loved ones, especially in a time where their health may be severely compromised.

Professor Janet Lord, Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing in the U.K. advised on ways in which to strengthen the immune system in the older population. When you exercise, your muscles help the immune system by the release of hormones called Myokines, which controls inflammation. Here are instructions for five (5) simple and easy exercises your elderly relative can do to strengthen their immune system. Provide as much support as you can for your elderly relative during these exercises.

Heel Raises  

Stand on evenly flat ground and hold on to something sturdy for support. Slowly raise your heel off the floor as high as you can go, going on tiptoe. Slowly return heel to the floor. Allow sufficient rest between repetitions. Do about 10 repetitions of these heel raises.

Leg Lifts each side

Stand on evenly flat ground and hold on to something sturdy for support. Slowly raise your leg to the side, away from the body, as high as you can, and then slowly return to the original position. Do about 10 repetitions of these leg lifts  

Arm Lifts (with weights – optional)  

This can be done either sitting or standing. Keep back straight and posture upright. While holding some form of weight (eg. a tin of peas) slowly raise arms, bilaterally, to the side, away from the body up to shoulder height or as high as you can, and then slowly return to the starting point. Do about 10 repetitions of these arm lifts.

Sit to Stand

Select a sturdy, straight-back chair. Sit upright in the chair. Slowly stand, trying not, as much as you can, to use your arms. Slowly sit back in the chair, maintaining control on the descent. Again, try not to engage your arms. Do about 10 repetitions of these sit to stands.

Climbing Stairs  

Anywhere you can get stairs to climb them! Climbing stairs is a great cardio exercise, so going up and downstairs will give your immune system a much-needed boost.

When selecting any of these exercises for your relative to perform, you must take into consideration their mobility status, as well as assess their ability to perform them before engaging in these activities. Get their full co-operation by describing the movement first before getting them to attempt it and please, be patient. Congratulate them on their effort; never push them too hard but a challenge is always good.

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