“Is it necessary to improve walking endurance in the elderly?”
Thank you for the question. One of the common reasons people are referred to Physical Therapy is for decreased endurance and fatigue. This fatigue is usually most noticed when the elderly are walking.
They will begin having trouble keeping up with their friends and family when out of the house, or need to take more rest breaks when shopping at the mall. For this reason it is vital to improve your endurance for walking. What is the cause of decreased endurance and fatigue?
There are three main factors that result in reduce endurance and fatigue. First it is due in large part to a lack of strength in your muscles. So it is more likely you will have greater endurance the stronger you can become. When you compare a younger person and an older person, many times the only difference is the amount of strength each one has.
Another problem is the lack of aerobic conditioning. Older adults who are more aerobically fit will report less fatigue and greater endurance.
Thirdly is the fact that older adults and the elderly are just less active than younger adults. We recently visited my mother who was ill for several months. Her activity level was very poor due to her illness and she was mostly sitting in a chair most of the day.
This caused her to become very weak, hardly able to get out of a chair. After a few weeks of daily exercise, she is nearly back to normal.
Yes it is very important to improve the endurance of the elderly especially in walking. The ability to maintain independence is mostly tied to being able to get out of a chair and walk around. When we can?t walk around independently we begin to loose our endurance and strength. So keep up that walking!
Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.
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