The significance of physical activity for health, overall functionality and good frame of mind of elderly people has become a subject matter of studies conducted in numerous scientific facilities. It manifests its fundamental role not only for preserving health, but also preventing numerous diseases, in particular the coronary disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, as well as depression and certain forms of cancer. It leads to an increase in the number of defence cells /natural killers/ and their active operation. These cells reinforce the immunity system, limiting the risk of diseases. Systematic physical effort is of vital importance in the treatment of obesity, which is a dramatic threat for our societies. It is a cause of many diseases and the primary root of sexual dysfunctions. Furthermore, the incidence of obesity is rapidly growing.
The impact of physical activity on the psyche is equally important. It reinforces the nervous system and suppresses the slowing down of cognitive skills, such as memory, concentration and intelligence. It boosts self-esteem and counteracts the feeling of loneliness, anxiety and despondence. Physical activity improves mood, ability to make decisions, self-assurance, position in a group and faith in own capacity. It also diffuses stress and pressure, as well as affects the release of endorphins, which produce a feeling of happiness and satisfaction.
The impact of physical activity on the operation of brain is also extraordinary. Stress, which is present in our lives on a daily basis, damages the brain cells. Systematically practised physical exercises excite creation of a network of nervous connections and may even result in the formation of new nervous cells. Therefore, movement improves the quality of life and healthy ageing. At the same time, it is necessary to practice regularly and be active for at least 30 minutes per day, five days a week, in line with the EU recommendations. The type of exercises (functional, weight training, improving suppleness and relaxation exercises), as well as their intensity should match the individual capacity and needs of every participant. Furthermore, their forms should be properly adjusted and recommended with respect to the frequently occurring diseases of the circulatory system, rheumatic diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, backbone pain, obesity and stress.
Experts draw attention to the necessity of designing programmes of physical activity for the elderly, as such activity contributes to the extension of their lives and improves the quality of life. Purposefulness of such programmes is also supported by genetic studies that prove that genetics determines the process of ageing in approx. 30 – 40%. This means that the rate and the course of the ageing processes depend not only on the civilisation progress, but primarily on ourselves. Our awareness and determination slows this process down and makes it more humanitarian. There is an obvious strong relation between the limited capacity of older people and reduction in movement. Regular physical activity influences the level of glucose in the blood, reduces the level of “bad” cholesterol and increases the level of the “good” one. Thus, it reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, and also the coronary thrombosis. Systematic physical activity may also influence the delay in standard ageing processes by as many as 10 or 20 years.
Our life span keeps increasing. The ageing of the European population is an undeniable fact. The numbers of eighty year-olds no longer impress. This state of affairs is called the “geriatric bomb.” However, it is no longer the age, but keeping mentally and physically fit in the old age that attracts greater attention of international organisations, representatives of various authorities, scientists, as well as an ever-growing group of people who take care of their appearance, good frame of mind and independence. Thus, the problem of physical activity of elderly people has become an object of interest on the international scale. A new scientific discipline came into being, called kinesiology, where the impact of physical activity on health is the main object of interest. Therefore, reduction in physical activity is one of the basic problems of societies. Its negative effects are painful for elderly people and affect a number of areas of social life.
A more narrow research field is “gero-kinesiology”. which analyses the impact of physical activity on individual aspects of health in the process of ageing.
Thus, what should be done to keep physically and intellectually fit as long as possible, to enjoy independence and life? Various forms of activity are conducive to this. The purpose of the presented method is to show the possibilities of keeping fit and enjoying one’s old age. It must be remembered that mobility is only one of the elements affecting mental and physical fitness. Apart from the necessity of applying specific forms of regular physical activity, adequately adjusted to the individual needs, it is necessary to correlate the physical activity with proper diet and psycho-relaxation classes. Reinforcing resistance to stress and proper nutrition will exert a significant impact on the functioning of our body and quality of our life.
This comprehensive, mutually supplementing and, at the same time, individual mode of impact on our body allows for fullest accomplishment of good health, quality and joy of life in the old age. This is the goal and the sense of the presented method. Its application follows from yet another issue which exerts a strong impact, i.e. the progressing disintegration of traditional family ties. Civilisation-related social transformations exert a negative impact on the traditional values such as authority, respect and care for the elderly. The feeling of loneliness, helplessness, burden of care and abandonment in elderly people is growing.
The method describes the obligations of the elderly people, at the same time indicating that it is also intended for people who turned 40. This is not a methodological error. In social reception, elderly people are people whose professional activity was formally ended, i.e. people aged 65 ˗ 75 and the issues of counteracting senility mainly focuses on them. However, the method described above is also adequate for forty year-olds who are just entering the ageing process. They should not neglect care for their health and fitness, especially due to the fact that the efficiency of the proposed method is greater when it is applied early in life. Its usefulness also depends on the systematic and long-term application, which acquires the form of a habit. Therefore, the described method is a purposeful activity. The problem of ageing and counteracting its effects cannot be an issue discussed exclusively in reference to people who ended their professional activity.