Regular Routines for Healthy and Happy Seniors?


PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Early to bed and early to rise not only makes a person wealthy and wise, but healthy, too, especially if you’re over 65. New research suggests that these activities may be within a person’s control, like keeping a regular sleep routines in your older years, may lead to better mental health.

A good night’s sleep and regular activity – important to your health, especially as you age, but not all activity nor sleep is created the same, according to University of Pittsburgh researcher, Stephen Smagula, PhD.

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Professor Smagula and his colleagues analyzed data from 1,800 adults over 65 for a study, in which they wore devices to record their movement. They found 30 percent had no set pattern to their sleep and activity routines.

“If your pattern was disrupted, you were more than twice as likely to have significant depression symptoms,” Smagula explains.

Another 32 percent got up at the same time but only had mild activity for 13 hours during the day. This group had some symptoms of depression, and also scored lower on cognition. And 38 percent had what Smagula calls a robust pattern, which means 15 hours of activity each day.

The adults with the regular sleep routines and robust activity patterns were happier and had better cognitive functioning, suggesting routine matters.

Smagula says the first step he suggests for seniors is to get up at the same time every day, no matter how tired you are. He says that most people think about intensity when they think of activity, but the research suggests that the duration of activity matters more, meaning older adults should find ways to stay engaged throughout the day.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5216

BACKGROUND: Immobility in elderly people can lead to many challenges and complications. For example, seniors who are immobile are more likely to lose some of their capacity to perform activities of daily living. In addition to deconditioning, prolonged immobility is associated with increased fatigue, low self-esteem and loss of confidence, which can increase the risk of falls and the development of pressure ulcers. Mobility limitations have been reported as increasingly prevalent in older persons affecting about 35% of people aged 70 and the majority of people over 85 years.


CAUSES AND COMPLICATIONS: There are many causes for mobility limitations in seniors. Some causes are arthritis, heart issues, reduced hearing and eyesight, osteoporosis, balance and coordination problems, and obesity. If immobility persists, it can cause dehydration, respiratory infections, constipation, urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, and anxiety and depression. There are other factors to consider when it comes to immobility complications and one of the biggest issues is heart complications. Three weeks of bed rest can causes a patient’s cardiovascular system to decline similar to that of 40 years of ageing.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Mobility is the key to having a happy, healthy, and independent life as you age. Here are five easy exercises that can keep an elderly person moving throughout the day.

  • Upper body clam shell: This exercise promotes scapular retraction and will help increase shoulder flexibility and stability.
  • Semi-sits: Also known as chair squats, semi-sits are a safe way to build strength in your knee muscles and allow more oxygen and blood to flow around the joints.
  • Seated abdominal press: This allows you to strengthen your core.
  • Side bends: This is another core exercise you can do anywhere.
  • Low-back rotation stretch: This stretching exercise will focus on the lower back to relieve tension and morning stiffness.



Asher Jones

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Stephen Smagula, Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Read the entire Q&A