How? By challenging them. Nothing gets the blood pumping hard and fast (no matter the state of the cardiac system) than a good challenge. The key is to impair balance through motorized footwear so that the senior citizens impulsively correct their own gait, an effort that doubles as exercise.
This project is currently being tested by a combined team of really smart chaps from Strathclyde University and an Israeli foundation dedicated to helping children with cerebral palsy. What they do is, given the alarming number of senior citizens who suffer injuries due to falls and slips, attach four small motors on select shoes and fit them on gramps and granny. Alas, the SMILING project won’t hit the mainstream anytime soon but initial testing has garnered positive results.
Oh, and the SMILING on the title is an acronym for “Self Mobility Improvement in the Elderly for Counteracting Falls.” Clever, clever huh?
Here’s a more comprehensive explanation of the program and its goals:
Each shoe contains four motors that change the balance of the user with every step taken. The users are challenged to actively respond to these changes as they are unable to see or predict what is coming next.
Strathclyde University has been responsible for constructing the shoe’s mechanical structure and David Carus, technical lead on the project, said this was far more challenging than expected.
‘The main problem was trying to make the components as small as possible and when you do that the forces get very high. In fact, in one part of the shoe, the force was equivalent to half the weight of a family car.’
Source The Engineer