Tag: health

Over 65 – Sports and health

Engaging in sports is beneficial at any age: it helps to maintain physical and mental health, thus improving and prolonging life. Engaging in regular physical activity over long periods of time helps to prevent many diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

Engaging in sports regularly helps us keep in shape and looking great. But there are also many other important reasons to stay fit: stronger muscles and bones with respect to a sedentary person; a more efficient cardio-respiratory tract and greater stamina.

Thanks to a greater awareness of the benefits of constant physical activity, the number of people with gym memberships is on the rise. It’s also increasingly common to see people jogging or cycling outdoors.

An overview of people over 65 and sports

Despite the increasing awareness among young people of the benefits offered by sports, the situation among the elderly is lagging: just 15% of people over 65 engage in sports more than once a week.

Most elderly people go out for a pleasant walk around their homes almost daily. Some dedicate themselves to outdoor activities like gardening. This is already a good start: in fact, a little bit of daily movement provides for the following benefits:

  • Increased blood flow to the brain
  • Improved respiratory function
  • Numerous heart benefits, including better blood circulation to the body’s tissues
  • Walking is also good for the bones, as it helps them to maintain better density over time, without becoming fragile

All of these benefits are even further increased if the elderly person dedicates him/herself to a regular sports activity, in consultation with a physician, and monitored by a good instructor.

Which sports

Engaging in regular physical activity is the most effective anti-ageing factor for maintaining physical and mental health over time. For people over 65, it is highly recommended to engage in a regular sports activity: now let’s take a look at the exercises most highly recommended for people in their golden years:

  • Fit walkingwalking briskly outdoors. Recommended for everyone as a way to keep in shape, it’s good for the cardio-respiratory system, increases bone density, and tones the muscles.
  • Water aerobics: particularly recommended for those who are advised to engage in physical activity, but without overloading the hips and knees due to back painobesity or joint problems in the legs. Improves blood circulation and promotes muscular and psychological relaxation.
  • Pilates: with its smooth, controlled, and harmonious movements, this gentle form of exercise is particularly recommended for elderly people as a way to tone up the abdominal, lumbar and dorsal muscles.

A wide range of benefits

As we have seen, there are various physical activities suitable for people over 65. All of them play the fundamental physical role of preventing numerous diseases.

However, the psychological aspect should not be overlooked: in fact, sports also play a social function, and help to fight loneliness among the elderly.

It is also important to consider the level of independence achieved by elderly people with fit bodies: being capable of carrying your shopping bags on your own is a goal that not all people over 65 are able to achieve!

So don’t wait: if you want to achieve excellent results throughout each phase of your life, now’s the time to take up a sport.

Bathroom safety

When you’re young, you might not realise that the home in which you live has various barriers or limitations.

Yet the home can potentially be an extremely hazardous place: in fact, we often hear people talking about domestic accidents. Although certain problems can arise due to negligence, some accidents are specifically due to the limitations found in the home.

These are even more hazardous for the elderly: in fact, for those who have difficulty walking or poor vision, a single step or the absence of something to hold onto can make all the difference in terms of safety.

Statistically speaking, the places where most domestic accidents occur are the kitchen and the bathroom. Analyses must therefore be conducted in order to identify the sources of danger present, and how to eliminate or minimise them in an acceptable manner.

Why the bathroom can be considered a dangerous room

The bathroom is considered a dangerous place because it encloses two elements within a confined space, which, when combined, can be fatal: electricity and water.

As early as the design phase, it is necessary to be extremely careful of the positioning of the electrical outlets, switches, and sanitary ware (namely bathtubs and showers).

Various safety zones are identified based on their distances from the sanitary ware: the closer we are to the water sources, the less advisable it is to install electrical outlets.

Water on its own is a danger source in terms of the possibility of slipping and falling in the bathroom: many domestic accidents take place in the shower or bathtub, where people often slip and fall down.

How to make your bathroom safe

If you’re building your bathroom from scratch, or are doing any major remodelling, it’s recommended to keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Use non-slip flooring and wall coverings. There are particularly porous ceramics on the market, which are quite suitable for this purpose. Wood and linoleum are also recommended materials.
  • Place non-slip rubber mats inside bathtubs and showers
  • Install emergency safety bells inside box showers and near bathtubs.
  • Place a seat inside the shower. Even a stool will do, provided that it is stable.
  • It is preferable for the walls of the shower to be made of plastic, not glass.
  • Consider installing handles to help any elderly people about; these are also ideal if there is a wheelchair-bound person living in the home (in this case, larger spaces will also be necessary).
  • Eliminate any steps and height gaps. This recommendation applies to all the rooms of the house.

Safe living

Nowadays, safety goes hand-in-hand with beauty and functionality: why should you forgo a designer bathroom when an ever-increasing number of companies are offering aesthetically pleasing and fully accessible solutions?

An environment devoid of barriers is the perfect place to dedicate some time to your personal wellness. And what better place is there to pamper yourself than the bathroom? Enjoy it in complete safety, thanks to the increasingly large number of solutions that we have explored together.

Travelling during your golden years

trip can have many nuances: it can be an adventure, it can be relaxing, it can be a means for socialising and meeting people, or it can be an opportunity for fun and cultural enrichment.

Anyone, at any time of their life, can find the trip that’s right for them. This is also true for people over 65.

Travel agencies are increasingly dedicating more attention to this age group: nowadays, in fact, people who are over-65 are typically retired, and therefore have a lot of free time on their hands, which they often take advantage of in order to take all the trips that they couldn’t take when they were young.

Recommended vacations

The classic type of vacation that more or less all retirees tend to enjoy involves spending time at spa: that’s because these types of vacations combine relaxation with a wide range of personal wellness treatments and rehabilitation activities. Thanks to special packages for people over-65, spa vacations are becoming increasingly accessible to everyone.

The free time that people have during retirement can also be exploited for trips around the world, in order to visit exotic countries and learn about different cultures. One can travel by plane, but ships are also recommended: why not pamper yourself on a cruise?

Another type of vacation that the elderly might enjoy consists of food and wine tourism. Visiting never before seen Italian cities, while enjoying traditional foods and sampling extraordinary wines: ideal for connoisseurs of excellent cuisine!

Special discounts

Thanks to the considerable increase in tourism among the over-65 age group, numerous transport companies and accommodation facilities are offering special discounts for this category.

  • Trains: the main Italian and international railway transport companies offer special prices on their High Speed lines. A useful way to incentivise this kind of environmentally-friendly travel.
  • Museums: all the most popular places of cultural interest now offer special discounts for the elderly. This is an excellent way to stimulate people from this age group to keep their passion for culture alive. Did you know that you can often get additional discounts on museum admissions if you purchase them together with train tickets?

Travelling to stay young

Travelling has become an elixir for longevity. Travelling stimulates our curiosity, and allows us to discover and learn about new places, thus keeping the brain active.

For people over 65, travelling has become a way to turn back the clock to a time when they might have been too busy to travel, and to dedicate themselves entirely to their passions.

Cultivate your interests, stay active, give yourself the gift of a trip dedicated to your own personal wellness, enjoy excellent food and wine, and dedicate yourself to cultural tourism to never stop learning. Life after 65 can still have many surprises in store: don’t miss out on them!

Swimming pools are for everyone

The law protects the right of all people with mild or permanent disabilities to engage in sports activities.

In fact, Italian Ministerial Decree no. 236/89 requires all areas intended for sports activities to be accessible to people with disabilities. The buildings and their individual areas must have entrances suitable for allowing access by people with reduced mobility or sensory disabilities.

In addition to ensuring accessibility, is also necessary to guarantee the possibility of using all the areas and equipment.

A significant amount of design headroom is provided in order to ensure perfect accessibility to the sports facilities, with the exception of a few binding elements: e.g. for the design or renovation of public buildings in general, at least one lavatory for the disabled must be included on each floor.

How to make a swimming pool accessible

When designing or renovating a swimming pool, it is necessary to ensure adequate accessibility for:

  • Car parks
  • Main entrances
  • Horizontal and vertical pathways
  • Lavatories and changing rooms
  • Pool entries

For blind or visually impaired individuals, it is necessary to provide a tactile pathway in relief connecting the various areas of the facility.

For people in wheelchairs, any minor height gaps must be eliminated using ramps with handrails. In the case of major height gaps, lifts or platforms must be installed.

The installation of handrails and non-slip flooring in general will serve to ensure greater safety for all.

In order to access the pools, individuals must have the possibility of using stairs, ramps or lifts, depending on the severity of their disabilities. Ramps and stairs must always have handrails.

All corners and edges must be rounded.

It is recommended for steps and ramps to be in contrasting colours, in order to ensure greater visibility for the visually impaired. The lanes in the pool should be separated by ropes.

The benefits of aquatic sports activities

Swimming and aquatic rehabilitation activities are generally recommended to people with disabilities by physicians.

Aquatic sports activities offer several major advantages for people with physical limitations: thanks to the extra support provided by the water, less weight needs to be borne by compromised body parts, and this allows for greater freedom of movement. A therapist, however, must always be present in order to assist of the individual.

The benefits associated with these types of activities are listed below:

  • Reduced pain
  • Greater range of movement
  • Improved posture

Anyone can get involved in sports: the example of the Paralympic athletes

There is an increasing amount of awareness of sports for people with disabilities.

The Paralympic Games have been held since 1960, and are attracting an increasing number of spectators each time around. The games provide a venue for athletes with varying degrees of physical disabilities to compete in every sport.

Swimming has always been part of the Paralympic Games. The athletes are divided into categories based on their type of disability, which can also be multiple.

The competitors include athletes missing one or more limbs, athletes suffering from paralysis, and athletes with vision problems: nobody is precluded from participating in competitive sports activities!

Food helps to keep you in shape

As the philosopher Feuerbach once said, “you are what you eat.” Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that there’s a strong link between diet and health.

Eating various types of foods, sparingly, and several times a day helps us to live longer, and helps prevent diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

The false claims about food

Countless new diets are proposed each year. Many of these are based on the complete elimination of one or more categories of nutrients deemed to be “bad for you”:

  • Carbohydrates: these are often the first to be put on trial, accused of making us fat. The truth, however, is that people obtain energy precisely by burning carbohydrates. Therefore, they shouldn’t be eliminated entirely, but we should however reduce our consumption of sweets and alcohol in favour of whole grains.
  • Animal protein and red meat: the results of a research study indicating that red meat is carcinogenic have recently been making the rounds. The truth, however, isn’t quite that simple: red meat can potentially cause cancer if consumed in excessive amounts and if associated with other risk factors. Animal proteins should not be eliminate at all costs, as this would pose a risk of serious nutritional deficiencies. Our consumption of red meat, however, should be limited to less than once a week.

The Mediterranean diet: tradition and health

The Mediterranean diet is both a culinary style and a lifestyle. In fact, it is considered an extremely important element of historical and cultural heritage. This type of diet is widespread among most of the countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Morocco. This diet is ideal for preventing arteriosclerosis, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, especially of the digestive system.

The food pyramid for the Mediterranean diet is as follows:

  • Carbohydrates are permitted, so bread and pasta are allowed, though preferably whole grain. These should constitute the base of the diet.
  • Large amounts of fruitsvegetables and legumes are recommended. These foods contain vitaminsproteins, and fibres, which promote bowel motility. It is recommended to consume multiple portions of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is considered the condiment par excellence. Milk and dairy products can be consumed daily, but no more than once a day.
  • Fish and eggs are permitted, as they are low in fat and provide for the intake of animal proteins.
  • It is preferable to consume white meat than red meat. White meat can be eaten 2 or 3 times a week, red meat less frequently.
  • Limit the consumption of sweets and hard alcohol
  • One glass of red wine, which is rich in antioxidants, is permitted each day.

Due to its wide variety and health benefits, the Mediterranean diet has been added to the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list.

The Sardinia of the supercentenarians

In Italy, there is one particular geographical area with a high density of elderly people: Sardinia.

In fact, this region, together with the Japanese island of Okinawa, boasts the highest percentage of supercentenarians.

What are the secrets to the Sardinian people’s longevity? The genetic factor certainly has something to do with it, as does the microclimate and the greater level of physical activity among the elderly residents, who remain active in cultivating the land and raising animals.

This guarantees the consumption of high quality food. In fact, according to recent studies, Sardinian wine appears to contain large amounts of antioxidants. According to ongoing research, Sardinian cheeses have bacilli with evident probiotic activity.

Pane, casu and binu a rasu” (bread, cheese and full glass of wine): that’s the recipe for living a good long life, according the Sardinians!

Extreme sports for the disabled

There is an increasing amount of awareness of sports for people with disabilities. This is in part to help regain limb mobility in the case of temporary disabilities, as well as to simply stay in shape.

Many people also dedicate themselves to more intense sports activities, such as Paralympic athletes: nobody is precluded from participating in competitive sports activities!

Few people realise that many people with disabilities love to engage in extreme sports.

From the “classics”…

Rugby is a perfect example of a “classic” extreme sport. There is a strict set of rules for wheelchair rugby: the wheelchairs must be manual; the athletes mustn’t touch one another, but the wheelchairs are free to make contact; notably, the teams, consisting of four athletes each, can be mixed.

Another classic yet physically demanding sport is skiing. Skiing enthusiasts with lower limb disabilities usually engage in this sport using custom “monoski” devices. One notable testimonial for this sport is provided by race car driver Alex Zanardi.

After the tragic accident in which he lost his legs, this remarkable athlete continues to engage in numerous physically demanding sports: in addition to having returned to race car driving, he has also become a Paralympic champion in the sport of handbiking, a type of cycling where the vehicle is powered by the arms rather than the legs.

… to actual extreme sports!

For disabled people who love the mountains, there’s the possibility of doing actual rockclimbing. Thanks to the use of specially adapted wheelchairs and the accompaniment of qualified personnel, those who have lost the use of their legs can still experience the thrill of climbing to the peak of a mountain!

For an ever greater adrenaline rush, they can even go skydiving! This activity must be performed with the assistance of an instructor, who will provide the harness for making the jump together. Upon reaching the ground, the instructor handles the landing using his/her own legs.

Why not even try freestyle? Thanks to special wheelchairs equipped with safety belts and helmets, people with disabilities can take on circuits quite similar to those used for skateboarding competitions! The only difference is that they’re on a wheelchair instead of a skateboard.

Never give up!

The world sports offers countless possibilities for people with various types of disabilities, even major ones. There are sports for all tastes, from the more “laid-back” and “classic” categories, to the extreme sports that most able-bodied people won’t even try.

Why should someone deprive themselves of an exciting experience just because they’re disabled?

Unlike the obstacles that one continuously encounters in daily life, there are truly no limits in sports.

Exercise your mind

Thanks to medical advancements, people are living considerably longer nowadays. That’s why it’s important to reach your golden years with a youthful and well-trained mind, and to do everything you can to keep in shape.

The mind is like a “muscle”: if you don’t keep it well-trained, it will eventually lose its strength.

Some people live to 90 years of age with a perfectly clear mind, while others begin to show early signs of dementia as early as 65 or 70.

In addition to having a natural genetic predisposition, let’s take a look at some other ways to keep your mind well-trained!

Lifestyle

It might seem trivial, but changing certain lifestyle habits can have an extremely positive effect on the brain. There are several activities that are seemingly unrelated to the brain, yet impact it in a positive way: let’s find out what they are!

  • Regular physical activity. Taking a long walk every day (at least half an hour) increases the delivery of oxygen to the brain. Aerobic activities, like cycling and running, help to protect the hippocampi, which are responsible for the formation and maintenance of the memory.
  • Engaging in our passions. There are numerous group activities that help to keep the brain active: travelling, go out dancing, playing lawn bowling, fishing, and gardening are all activities that encourage social interaction and keep the mind young.
  • Sleeping well (which doesn’t mean sleeping a lot): some people just a few hours of sleep to feel well-rested. With quality sleep (regardless of the number of hours), the mind will be fresh and rested.
  • Mediterranean diet. This consists of a varied and well-balanced diet, low in fat and free radicals. Excessively large meals are not recommended. Did you know that two shots of espresso per day help to keep the brain young?

Mental exercises

Now let’s move on to the specific exercises designed to keep the mind well-trained. While there’s no need to attempt impossible puzzles, “difficult” games can certainly be more stimulating. Whatever the case, a series of exercises suitable for everyone are listed below:

  • Puzzles: A book of puzzles is an excellent way to exercise your brain. Some scholars argue that two crossword puzzles a day can delay the onset of dementia. Other games, especially riddles, can also be beneficial.
  • Chess: this complex and stimulating game requires a great deal of concentration. Every match is different, and this requires the players to continuously seek out different solutions. This in turn will have a positive impact on memory and mental clarity!
  • Counting down. Here’s a challenging maths game: starting from a high number, continue subtracting a fixed number, and try to increase your speed.
  • Reading: Reading a newspaper every day, from start to finish, stimulates brain activity. Reading a book is also good for this purpose, especially if it’s a mystery: investigating the plot alongside the protagonist is a good way to stimulate brain activity.

Don’t stop there!

It’s important to constantly seek out new stimuli in order to keep your mind well-trained.

Solitude, laziness, and boredom are enemies of the brain!

Enjoy the company of friends and family as much as possible, indulge your passions and hobbies, eat properly, and sleep well: this is the best formula for reaching your golden years with a mind that’s still fresh and dynamic!

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