AN exercise scientist who teaches 101-year-olds to pump iron says aged care residents should be working out three times a week.
Bond University PhD candidate Samantha Fien said exercise, along with diet, is key to improving quality of life in aged care homes.
“Most facilities have some sort of exercise regime but there should be more emphasis on two to three days a week of weights and resistance training,” Miss Fien said.
“It’s something that would be best addressed from the government down.
“People are living longer and as a result of that they’re in aged care for longer than they were 20 years ago.”
I had to explain to them that weight resistance and dumbbells wasn’t going to turn them into Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Miss Fien began studying the benefits of exercise within aged care residents three years ago.
Her work has shown that nursing home residents who exercise are able to walk faster than those who don’t. Other studies have shown that slower walking speeds are a precursor to falls, hospitalisation and death.
Miss Fien said it was particularly challenging to get female aged care residents to take part in exercise programs.
“I had to explain to them that weight resistance and dumbbells wasn’t going to turn them into Arnold Schwarzenegger,” she said.
“People were turning up to classes in high heel wedges. Picking up a set of weights was a foreign experience for them.
“For some people in aged care, they are not there on their own terms, so it’s confronting to be told that there is a schedule to follow.”
Miss Fien said exercises could have practical benefits such as allowing residents to improve their ability to get up out of a chair, walk faster and more safely, hold a pen and write their signature, or perform other activities requiring a strong grip.
The classes have other benefits. “They socialise, make friends and get out of their rooms,” she said.
Miss Fien has conducted weekly weight sessions with nursing home residents as old as 101. The oldest current members of her workout squad are 98.
- Samantha Fien is a PhD candidate for her study Gait Performance in Residential Aged Care and the Benefits of Exercise.
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