Stretching Program Can Reduce Injury, Cut Hospital Readmission Costs For Seniors

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Hospital readmission for seniors costs the US healthcare system $15 billion a year, and noted fitness expert Miranda Esmonde-White says that number can be significantly reduced through a modest program of stretching.

Esmonde-White cited a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed regular physical activity among seniors was associated with lower rates of hospital admission and lower long-term healthcare costs.

Hospital readmission, or a patient's return to the hospital within thirty days of being discharged, can come as the result of a variety of causes. More than one in five seniors are readmitted after being discharged at the cost of $15 billion a year. Because many of these return trips are often preventable, they have become a source of scrutiny as elected officials and hospital administrators face increasing pressure to curb rising healthcare costs.

Esmonde-White, who has worked extensively with the elderly and developed programs and trainer manuals for senior fitness, believes hospital readmissions among senior citizens can be reduced with accessible and basic techniques. 

Esmonde-White, who hosts the top-rated fitness program Classical Stretch on the PBS network, has popularized The Esmonde Technique, which promotes stretching exercises to enable strength and flexibility.

"A series of stretching techniques can be used by seniors as both a preventative measure and to supplement other physical therapies, reducing incidences of injury and admission and readmission to hospitals," said Esmonde-White. "People from all walks of life, from seniors to professional athletes, have been able to increase dexterity, strength and circulation."

Esmonde-White's daughter, Sahra, has launched Essentrics, 20-and 60-minute workouts based on the same philosophy as The Esmonde Technique. More intensive than Classical Stretch, Essentrics caters to fitness buffs, athletes and those looking for a more rigorous workout, and keeps the body's muscles elongated and toned to reduce sports injuries.

The workout plan includes both toning and stretch routines that keep blood moving through all of the muscles in the body.

The Esmonde Technique, the foundation of both Classical Stretch and Essentrics, provides an accessible and effective guide to achieving a well-balanced and ultimately healthier body, says Esmonde-White. "It offers seniors a tool to make necessary lifestyle changes, reduce primary and return trips to hospitals, and as a result, may limit some instances of hospital readmission that pressure an already overburdened system."