Demographic development indicates an increasing number of people living to old age. Population aging can also be defined as “changes in the age structure caused by an increase in the proportion of old people in the population” “The population aging process is taking place at the global level, the fastest in Europe, where the proportion of people over 60 will increase to less than 35% in 2050” .
“The average age of the Slovak population will increase significantly in the coming decades. The most intense growth in the average age of the population is expected in the period 2025 – 2040. This is a period when both strong generations born in the 50s and 70s of the last century will still be significantly represented in the population of the Slovak Republic. After 2040, when the strong post-war years begin to die out, the growth of the average age will moderate”. Prognosis of the population of Slovakia until 2060. After 2060, the post-productive age population (65 and over) will be the largest age group in the population of Slovakia. In the aforementioned population forecast, they emphasize that the age group of people over 65 will actually be the only one that will increase significantly in this way: “the biggest changes are expected in the group of residents aged 65 and over. This is the only major age group in which the population will increase by 2060. The expected increase will range from 600 thousand up to 900 thousand persons, most likely the number of inhabitants in this age group will increase by 760 thousand. persons, which is almost twice the current number (an increase of 86%)”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) divides the age categories as follows:
- average age 45-59 years,
- older age (presenium) 60-74 years,
- old age (senium) 75-89 years,
- very old age (longevity) – over 90 years.
For most people, aging is associated with lived experiences, with certain knowledge acquired throughout life, and the activities that have been fun until now do not have to end at all with increasing age.
Seniors and sports
Although one of the characteristics of senior age is the gradual reduction of physical activity, its importance and inclusion in the daily routine of people in senior age is very important. Regular sports help to lead a full-fledged and high-quality life even in old age, which positively affects not only the physical but also the psychological side of a person. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the functionality of fine and gross motor skills, coordination and the overall ability of free independent movement of the senior citizen through appropriate exercise and physical activity as a prerequisite for disease prevention and reducing the need for institutional care.
Before starting any exercise, it is necessary to consult this step with your doctor, as not all exercises are suitable for every senior. It is therefore important to correctly choose the most suitable exercise, which respects the current, but also the long-term state of health of a person. It is necessary to start the exercise slowly and increase the intensity after weeks, without overtraining and feeling bad about the exercise. In addition to the principle of appropriateness when choosing an exercise (extent, intensity and content of the exercise), the presence of a trainer is also essential due to the individual approach, guidance and supervision of the correct execution of the exercise with an emphasis on systematicity, consistency and regularity of the exercise.
Movement activities suitable for seniors
Many types of exercises are suitable for seniors. Everyone can choose an exercise activity that they have done before or start a completely new exercise activity.
1. Aerobic exercise or Cardio exercise is suitable for supporting the heart and pumping oxygen in the body. They belong here:
a) walking – long walks and hiking, Nordic walking (movement activities in the fresh air that are not demanding on finances and equipment. Trekking poles are a help, which serve as a support when walking in more demanding terrain)
b) swimming (supports immunity and also helps with problems with a sore spine or joints)
c) water aerobics, aerobics, Zumba Gold (slower tempo, choreography containing simple elements, while inappropriate movements are omitted (such as jumps) with a focus on fine motor skills of the senior)
d) riding a bicycle (exercise bike, exercise bike, elliptical trainer) – (movement activities save the joints, have relaxing effects, strengthen the muscles of the whole body, have a positive effect on blood pressure and circulation and also help to increase the vital capacity of the lungs)
e) dance (easy dance courses adapted to the content of the senior age category)
2. Other physical activities
a) light strengthening and fitness (strengthening and strengthening exercises for the whole body and problematic parts with your own body weight or with aids – fit-balls, overballs, small dumbbells, expanders…)
b) stretching and stretching exercises (they warm up, relax and activate the movement system)
c) balance exercises (strengthening stability – reducing the risk of falling and injury)
d) yoga exercises and tai chi (the movement component of the exercise is supplemented by spiritual exercise and tension release)
e) breathing and relaxation exercises (exercises aimed at deep relaxation and gradual release of internal, but also nervous and muscular tension)
f) outdoor activities – petanque, garden croquet, darts (simple games with rules offer fun and rivalry between individuals or teams)
g) Pilates exercises (exercise focusing on strengthening the body, relieving back pain, activating the deep abdominal muscles with precise prescribed breathing, where the number of repetitions is in the background and the exercise technique is important)
In all exercises, everyone must be aware of themselves, their own body, its requirements, needs and possibilities. In general, it is possible to consult with the principles of Feldenkrais, who came to the conclusion that the more a person tries to improve the quality of movement, the more complex the development of the entire human being will be.
Recommended principles of exercise:
1. Make movements slowly, precisely and with feeling
2. Enjoy pleasant sensations while moving
3. Work with your imagination, remember the course of the movement
4. Take your time, rest often, according to the feeling of mental fatigue
5. Start the exercise in a lying position, thanks to which we will achieve muscle relaxation