The loss of independence that often accompanies aging is a source of concern that needs to be addressed. Physical activity interventions have been proven to be a useful measure in the preservation of motor functions in senior adults. However, research suggests that regular physical exercise may have effects beyond preventing muscle atrophy and could be beneficial for the overall healthy aging of a person. This essay discusses the research on the topic and its implications for health care.
Affected Population and Associated Issues
The modern period has been characterized by a continuous increase in life expectancy for people. According to Lee et al. (2017), people will be expected to live for over 90 years on average by 2030. This will lead to a rise in the proportion of senior adults in the population, and therefore, it is necessary to develop more robust and effective measures to address the health concerns associated with aging.
The primary health concern for seniors is the onset of frailty and the resulting loss of abilities. Frailty is inevitable to a degree, but correct medical interventions can help delay it for significant amounts of time. However, it is necessary to conduct additional research into the causes and effects of the issue to determine the most appropriate treatment for every situation, particularly in populations of 75 years of age and above (Lee et al., 2017). As modern medicine is moving toward an approach where interventions are tailored to the patient and the situation, understanding of the matter is necessary to guarantee that care matches quality standards.
Physical Activity Interventions
A lifestyle that incorporates regular physical activity is beneficial to the maintenance of motor skills and the preservation of the quality of life for all populations. Laussen et al. (2016) state that a community-based intervention can improve the physical functions, leg strength, and quality of life for older adults, in particular, suggesting that the method is effective. The effects of physical activity on the development and maintenance of muscle mass and the nervous system have been the subject of massive amounts of research and are still being researched today.
Also, physical activity may have benefits other than prevention of frailty, such as a slowing of the aging process and the damage associated with it. Kumar, Tholahunase, Yadav, Yadav, and Dada (2015) claim that lifestyle interventions such as yoga and meditation may be able to significantly decrease markers of oxidative stress, which leads to a reduction in oxidative DNA damage markers. They add that oxidative damage to the nitrogen bases may be a significant contributor to aging and senescence. The authors conclude that the adoption of a healthy lifestyle may be beneficial to the reduction of stress and aging.
The promotion of an active lifestyle is a particularly effective measure because it encourages people to carry out activities they are capable of carrying out without requiring supervision by a medical specialist. Light physical exercise can be performed personally or in groups under the guidance of a gymnastics trainer, which makes it available to most, if not all, population groups. This approach reduces costs for healthcare institutions, and the intervention stays effective as long as the information is disseminated to a broad section of the population.
The primary method for a physical activity-based intervention is to spread awareness of the concerns related to aging and the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle. This spreading can be done through existing channels for information spreading, such as adverts in various media or featured articles in newspapers and journals. It is also possible to hold seminars for older adults where a practitioner would educate the attendees on aging and effective methods of delaying the process. Lastly, workers can inform hospitalized patients who are capable of performing exercises of the benefits and direct them to a location where they can engage in activities.
Community fitness programs and facilities can be highly conducive to the intervention. They provide a place for gathering and socializing as well as guidance and observation by a qualified specialist. Stathokostas, Speechley, Little, Doerksen, and Paterson (2016) describe their use of existing facilities for exercise and education of older adults in the particulars and benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, gathering the people in a single location can be useful for the identification of potential concerns and their resolution before they become threatening. The most significant benefit of using specialized facilities is the number of sessions that can be held in a day and the resulting number of individuals that a single location can serve simultaneously.
Physical activity is a constant across all cultures, and all ethnic groups should approve of the concept. At the same time, it would be beneficial to study the circumstances surrounding various groups in every region and consider appropriate measures. For example, local programs could incorporate special sessions where participants would practice cultural arts such as yoga, or such activities could be added to the general plan of the region’s fitness centers.
The program should not have negative ethical or legal implications, as it only encourages people to participate in activities that they already could perform. Participation will be voluntary, and the people will be able to enter or leave the program at will, without having to follow preset plans, although specialists will suggest schedules that benefit the person the most. The intervention does not involve the use of expensive medication, so it does not have significant financial implications for the target population.
The primary costs of the program would be related to the information campaign and the sessions at fitness centers. It would be necessary to continuously place adverts and promote articles that discuss the benefits of healthy living and their relation to older adults until the idea becomes rooted in the minds of the public and starts propagating on its own. Furthermore, it will be beneficial to organize community awareness sessions, which would require the presence of several medical professionals who would elaborate on the topic and answer questions that may arise.
The existing facilities should be sufficient for organized fitness sessions, although that may not necessarily be true for all territories, and additional costs may be required. In most situations, however, the initial expenses will involve the encouragement of the target population to attend a fitness facility and the hiring of a group of certified specialists for the supervision and instruction of the attendees. However, the costs of hiring professionals can be mitigated if the people who use the facility pay a small fee for the sessions, which reduces the overall financial burden on the healthcare system.
The project would require considerable financial investments to construct new facilities, hire employees, and begin the information campaign at the beginning. However, the costs of maintaining it would be considerably lower, as it would only be necessary to support the spreading of awareness and pay the fitness instructors and associated staff. The program would require a constant resource supply, but its need for funding would eventually subside to a level where it can be called sustainable.
Furthermore, in the long run, many of the program’s goals may be achieved and therefore stop requiring resources and effort. These are primarily the information goals, as the end scenario of that effort is the acceptance of the idea that a healthy lifestyle is vital to good health and slower aging by the public opinion. If the notion is universally accepted, the need to maintain awareness of it will disappear, allowing the resources engaged in the information campaign to be reassigned elsewhere.
As people are expected to have longer and longer life spans in the future, it is necessary to consider the medical approaches to aging and older adults in general. Research suggests that physical activity can be beneficial in the maintenance of mobility and independence. It may also slow the aging process and have other positive effects on health. As such, an intervention plan that involves spreading awareness about the benefits of an active lifestyle and organizing fitness sessions for older adults could lead to significant positive effects.
Although the idea would require an initial investment to update the infrastructure, it would likely be sustainable in the long-term perspective. Further research into the health of older adults is necessary, and a physical activity-based intervention could establish a strong foundation for studies while improving the population’s health.
Kumar, S. B., Tholahunase, M., Yadav, R. K., Yadav, R., & Dada, R. (2015). Effect of lifestyle intervention on markers of oxidative stress, inflammation and cellular aging. International Multispecialty Journal of Health, 1(5), 15-21.
Laussen, J., Kowaleski, C., Martin, K., Hickey, C., Fielding, R. A., & Reid, K. F. (2016). Disseminating a clinically effective physical activity program to preserve mobility in a community setting for older adults. The Journal of Frailty and Aging, 5(2), 82-87.
Lee, K. Y., Lam, M. H. S., Lei, Y., Ho, R. K. S., Cheung, B. C. M., Lo, D. S. T., … Peake, R. (2017). Effects of physical activity on functional health of older adults: A systematic review. Journal of Athletic Enhancement, 6(3). Web.
Stathokostas, L., Speechley, M., Little, R. M. D., Doerksen, S., & Paterson, D. H. (2016). The Get Fit for Active Living demonstration project: Evaluation of a Canadian older adult physical activity education program – Evaluation report. Canadian Journal of Age, 36(1), 67-80.