University of São Paulo: Elderly people dehydrate easily, and physical activities require attention

A survey by Dieese (Inter-union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies), released by Agência Brasil, shows that, of the 210 million Brazilians, 37.7 million are elderly, that is, over 60 years old. Data from the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) show that 9 million elderly people practice some type of physical activity in Brazil. Walking is the preferred exercise, with 66.5% adherence, followed by cycling, 13.3%, and gym, with 9.69%.

According to the Ministry of Health, the practice of physical and body activity is essential for health in the elderly. Among the various benefits offered are: “The decrease in the glycemic index, blood pressure, strengthening of bones, improvement of the immune system, coordination, balance – very important at this stage of our lives. Physical activity also promotes that feeling of well-being”, says Professor Carlos Bezerra de Albuquerque, acting director of Cepeusp (USP’s Sports Practice Center). He also recalls that the benefits can be even greater: “It is worth having an adequate diet, controlling the malefic malaise and having human relationships, having socialization. This is very important”.

For those who have been out of work for a long time, or just now want to take better care of their health with the practice of some exercise, care is needed, emphasizes the professor. “The first step is to go to the doctor for an evaluation. Afterwards, look for a Physical Education professional or a Sports Center, a gym that is aligned with activities for the elderly.” Among the suggestions to move the body are: walking, water aerobics in the summer or in heated pools, pilates, weight training, swimming, stretching and cycling, taking all precautions. Everything is valid in the pursuit of aerobic condition and muscle strengthening.

The professor cites that “three times a week, 30 minutes each time, is a good start until reaching what the World Health Organization recommends, which is 150 minutes a week”. He also says that complementing it with outings to walk the dog, going to the bakery, the pharmacy, only contributes to increasing the benefits already achieved with the practice of exercises.

Greater care in summer

In the summer period, care should be redoubled, since the elderly feel less thirsty and the risk of dehydration is greater. Professor Bezerra recalls that “many take medication to lower their blood pressure, which can be even lower in the heat, physical activity helps to lower blood pressure. Also monitor this issue when you are sitting, lying and going to get up”. The recommendation is to drink plenty of fluids and exercise until 10 am. With this, the hottest period of the day is avoided and there is still the benefit of feeling more active and willing.

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