Understanding aging

An introductory talk on Physical Activity and Aging as well as Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation was held at the Blessed Sacrament Church December 22.

Jan 10, 2020

By Joseph Wong / Jeffrey Anak Agnes
An introductory talk on Physical Activity and Aging as well as Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation was held at the Blessed Sacrament Church December 22.

The talk was given by two professional physiotherapists, Jeffrey Anak Agnes and Ow Pei Ling. It was graced by the Rector, Fr Felix Au who warmly welcomed all the parishioners and thanked them for their presence.

Jeffrey began the first part of the talk on Physical Activity and Aging by defining what Physiotherapy really is. Physiotherapy is a type of service that “develops, maintains and restores maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan.” Physiotherapy is not just about pain management, exercises, manual therapy or electrical modalities. Physiotherapy is about helping people to be functional with their daily activities through a rehabilitative learning experience.

To begin with, he introduced the audience to two different categories of aging: primary aging, the deterioration of cellular structure and biological function; and secondary aging, the deleterious structural and functional changes caused by diseases and environmental factors. Primary aging is thus inevitable but it is possible to control secondary aging to have a better quality of life.

He also spoke of the various soft tissue changes with aging such as losing bone mass, increased collagenous tissues tightness (ligament, tendon, fascia etc.), reduced maximal heart rate resulting in slow aerobic capacity and more. With the common complaint of pain in older population, he explained that it is impossible to age with the complete absence of pain. Physiotherapy can help us live a better quality of life as it helps us to live with minimal pain while remaining functional.

He also mentioned that our physical activities will reduce as we grow older and we may tend to be sedentary, due to environmental requirements or office-based professions. With references to the latest research articles, active physical activities during earlier age contributed to better motor performance, cognitive function and helped to prevent sarcopenic obesity that might lead to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol in later age.

Jeffrey also discussed the difference between physical activities and exercises. Exercise has to be a planned, structured, repetitive activity aimed to improve fitness with a prescribed and adherent dose. He noticed many elderly people ‘wasting time’ doing ‘exercises’ with irrelevant arm, leg or body movements not targeted to improve any level of physical fitness. It is important for the elderly to do functional movement exercises relevant to maintain our ability to perform daily activities.

With sedentary behaviour defined as prolonged sitting time, Jeffrey asked the audience to observe their daily behaviour for a week by keeping a record of their sitting time. He advised taking short breaks e.g. walk, stand or do physical activity for a few minutes before returning to the chair. They should also include 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercises such as brisk walking, running, gardening or swimming per week, in addition to daily physical activities. Structured functional exercises will prevent the effects of sarcopenic obesity and other structural or functional changes with aging.--Today's Catholic

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