PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AVAILABLE FOR THE ELDERLY IN AMERICA 9
PhysicalActivity Available for the Elderly in America
Physicalactivity among the elderly is a major consideration because of thehealth benefits that come with regular physical activity. Thus, itshould be considered by the healthcare facilities in America. Regularphysical activity has a critical role in ameliorating mostage-associated decreases in cardiovascular and musculoskeletalsystems (Poon,2006). Besides, physical activity can also prevent the need for theelderly seeking medical treatment, or it can serve as a significantadjuvant to medical treatment. In addition, physical activity hasbeneficial effects on the functioning of the vascular,cardio-respiratory, immune, endocrine, and metabolic systems. Assuch, it mitigates the risk factors for the development of diabetesmellitus, osteoporosis, and coronary artery disease among others(Poon,2006). Therefore, regular physical activity should be a criticalaspect to consider amid the elderly in America. Studies indicate thatmost elderly people in America do not engage in regular physicalactivity due to different factors such as lack of time and lack offacilities among others.
Theincreasing incidences of chronic diseases amid the elderly in Americahave been mostly attributed to decreased physical activity among theelderly. This raises the need to understand what is causing theelderly not to have appropriate physical activities in America. Thus,the research seeks to establish whether there are adequate facilitiesfor the elderly that can help them in getting the right physicalactivity.
Inorder to find out whether there are enough facilities for the elderlythat can aid them in getting the right physical activity, 5 surveyswere conducted. A group of 100 elderly individuals comprising 50women and 50 men were randomly selected from five American cities persurvey. These individuals were interviewed on their exact age andwhether they participate in physical activity or not, if not, theywere asked to indicate the reason for not participating in physicalactivity in a survey sheet that was provided to them.
Resultsfrom the five surveys indicated that a vast number of the elderly(64%) did not participate in physical activity, while the restparticipated in physical activity. Out of those individuals thatindicated that they do not participate in physical activity, 74%indicated that lack of facilities was the chief reason for notengaging in physical activity, while the remaining 26% cited otherreasons other than lack of facilities.
Froma study conducted by Justine et al, which was aimed at identifyingthe internal and external barriers to physical activity participationamid the elderly and the middle-aged, results indicated that the mostusual external barriers amid the middle-aged and the elderly werelack of sufficient time (46.7% for the middle aged and 48.4% for theelderly), lack of facilities (33.4% for the middle aged and 35.0% forthe elderly (Justine et al, 2011). In this study, individuals wererecruited and grouped into two categories individuals entering theelderly age (age 45-59) and the elderly (above 60 years). Every groupcomprised of 60 individuals that acted as the representative sampleof those entering the elderly age and the elderly. The two groupswere interviewed and data concerning their anthropometry,demographics, and internal and external barriers that make them notparticipate in physical activity collected. From the results, it wasapparent that there was no significant difference between the twogroups in terms of internal and external barriers to physicalactivity and lack of facilities for physical activity emerges as acommon factor for not participating in physical activity.
Accordingto the CDC Report (2014), most state departments, local governmentagencies and their partners have come to realize the vast need ofenhancing facilities that promote physical activities and that makeit easier to access them. This can help the elderly in improving theway they participate in physical activity. Currently, only 27 stateshave managed to create state-level complete street policies that aidin ensuring that streets are now safe for all users, includingbicyclists and pedestrians. However, more work still needs to be doneso as to increase access to physical activity. According to theBehavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2011), the proportion ofAmerican adults meeting muscle-strengthening and aerobic physicalactivity guidelines is less than 25% in more than 40 states (figureshown below). This is an indication that less adults in most statesengage in physical activity, elderly included.
Besides,according to CDC Report (2010), there is a need of creating anddeveloping more facilities for physical activity. This depicts thatthere are insufficient facilities in America that can support theright physical activity for the elderly. Whenever the environment forphysical activity is not friendly and facilities for physicalactivity are not adequate, the number of elderly individuals thatwill participate in physical activity is exceedingly few. The reportfurther indicates that there are less safe attractive parks andrecreation or fitness facilities in local neighborhoods, which cansupport the participation of the elderly in physical activity allover America. This implies that only a meager percentage of theelderly will be in a position to participate in physical activity.
Accordingto Rahl (2010), 80% of adults in America do not receive therecommended physical exercise, the elderly included. The elderly wereindicated to comprise the highest percentage. The chief reasonsindicated for not participating in physical activity include lessaccess to safe and convenient places to do physical activity, fewwalking paths and bike lanes within the neighborhoods, and fewfacilities having physical activity equipments.
Fromthe existing literature and research, it is apparent that there areinadequate facilities in America to support the elderly in gettingappropriate physical activity. Although the number of elderlyindividuals that are currently engaging in physical activities isincreasing compared to the number that was participating in the past,there is a need for the local government, government agencies andpartners to engage in activities that will increase access and thenumber of facilities that support physical activities (Frank et al,2003). This will be critical in fighting chronic diseases among theelderly. One of the ways that the access and number of facilities canbe increased to the elderly entails developing new parks, bike lanesand walking paths, where the elderly can do their physicalactivities. As more parks, bike lanes and walking paths aredeveloped, the elderly within the neighborhood will feel motivated toengage in physical activities since the facilities are just locatedwithin their neighborhood. This will have an impact of increasing thenumber of elderly individuals getting appropriate physical activity.
Besides,since there are few facilities that are stocked with equipments thatare necessary for the elderly to engage in appropriate physicalactivities, schools that have these equipped facilities shouldpartner with the local governments in order to help the elderlyaccess the equipped facilities in order to participate in appropriatephysical activity. For instance, the local governments can makepartnership with schools having the equipped facilities in a mannerthat the elderly can use the equipped facilities after students leaveschool. This could the elderly an opportunity to access thefacilities.
Inaddition, in order to increase the number of facilities in Americathat can support the elderly in getting appropriate physicalactivity, recreational facilities should be created by the localgovernment through following census blocks. In this case,recreational facilities should be created within a census block orhalf a mile from the boundary of a census block. This would make itfeasible for the elderly to get appropriate physical activity from acensus block.
Thepercentage of the elderly individuals participating in appropriatephysical activity is small due to internal and external factors.Although internal factors play a part in the participation ofphysical activity, to a large extent external factors play thebiggest part. Lack of adequate facilities, where the elderly canparticipate in obtaining appropriate physical activity emerges as themajor external factor influencing the participation. However, inorder to make the elderly participate in appropriate physicalactivity, there is a need to increase the access and number offacilities in order to aid the elderly in participating inappropriate physical activity. This can be through creatingrecreation facilities based on census blocks and partnering withschools, where the elderly can use the school facilities, whenstudents are out of school.
Frank,L. D., Engelke, P. O., & Schmid, T. L. (2003). Healthand community design: The impact of the built environment on physicalactivity.Washington, DC: Island Press.
Justine,M., Azizan, A., Hassan, V., Salleh, Z., & Manaf, H. (2011).Barriersto participation in physical activity and exercise among middle-agedand elderly individuals. PubMed 54(10):581-6
Poon,L. W. (2006). Activeliving, cognitive functioning, and aging.Champaign: Human Kinetics.
Rahl,R. L. (2010). Physicalactivity and health guidelines: Recommendations for various ages,fitness levels, and conditions from 57 authoritative sources.Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
StateIndicator Report on Physical Activity, 2010. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/PA_State_Indicator_Report_2010.pdf
StateIndicator Report on Physical Activity, 2014. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/pa_state_indicator_report_2014.pdf