Physical exercise is the only intervention to consistently demonstrate attenuation to functional decline among older adults. Do other habits, such as healthy eating improve the decline among older adults? Absolutely (and we endorse the same), but nothing consistently shows greater functional capacity (i.e., longer physical independence) than physical exercise. (Nelson 2016)
Age Stereotypes and Physical Health
It is a common assumption to characterize aging with physical decline and that the reasons for health issues later in life are due to that physical decline because of age. It has been found by Psychologists that the way we perceive aging and ourselves can either hasten physical decline or, in fact, work to greatly reduce it. (Nelson 2016)
For example, it has been found that older adults who were asked to cite the reasons for their physical disabilities, those who cited “old age” as the primary reason had significantly higher levels of arthritis, heart disease, and hearing loss compared to those not attributing their disability to old age. (Nelson 2016)
Okay, what does this mean and how can Physical Therapy help me?
What does this mean?
If you have a strong internal control and disbelief about age-related declines, you are more likely to adopt behaviors and habits that prevent functional decline (losing your independence).
If you believe that old age is accompanied by unstoppable health decline, this may cause stress and anxiety. Studies have demonstrated that increased stress and adrenaline adversely influence one’s immune functioning and cardiovascular health. (Nelson 2016)
How can Physical Therapy help?
Physical Therapy will assist in guiding you in being able to perform the things you love with assurance so that you can do it without negative effects.
How would it feel to have the capacity to play with your grandkids or walk on the beach with confidence versus “I don’t know if I should do that because I may fall, hurt for 2 days, or I’m too old?”
By increasing your confidence with movement, you will move more, create healthier moving habits, and get stronger. There is no age limit on getting stronger.
How do I know that Physical Therapy can bring me greater functional independence?
A trained Physical Therapist in orthopedic conditions (we have the credentials of Orthopedic Clinical Specialist or “OCS” - check out my “About” Section) can skillfully guide you in getting stronger where you need it the most to continue having greater functional independence longer.
Nelson, Todd D. “Promoting Healthy Aging by Confronting Ageism.” American Psychologist, vol. 71, no. 4, 2016, pp. 276–282., dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0040221.