For the past ten years, I’ve been a physiotherapist at Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff, Alberta; Canada. Witnessing long term care residents live a mostly sedentary life did not resonate well with me. I saw the effects repeatedly: deteriorating functionality and simple lack of satisfaction with daily living. Some people would beg me to take them outside and, once there, they would lament that they were no longer able to walk around and enjoy their surroundings. Despite often severe disabilities, it was obvious that residents still craved opportunities to be active outdoors.
In 2015 I attended an Exercise Prescription and Aging conference. There I learned some hard data about Canada’s fast-aging population. According to Statistics Canada, the number of 85-year-olds will more than double between 2016 and 2036. By 2036, 62 percent of all healthcare spending will be on those aged over 65. Furthermore, while many adults are healthy in their later years, there is also an increasing number of seniors living with fraility. Frailty comes with more complex health challenges. Both social connectivity and physical activity are necessary components for healthy aging for any adult over 65 years, whether or not they are frail.