Regular physical activity is extremely beneficial as we age, not only for our physical health but it can also keep your mind active, provides opportunity to socialise, improve sleep and mood, increase energy levels, reduce anxiety and stress and improves quality of life - all factors that lead to healthy ageing. Exercise doesn’t have to be a strict and tough regime, even a small amount of daily activity can reduce the risk of health conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Bone problems (osteoporosis)
- Some types of cancer
- High cholesterol
Exercise and ageing
Research shows us that including all four types of exercise; strength, endurance, balance and flexibility, is the most beneficial when it comes to healthy ageing and reducing the risk of chronic conditions as we age. Each type of exercise has its own benefits on the body and including them all in your routine will help avoid boredom and risk of injury.
Working on your strength will help you stay independent longer and make everyday activities feel easier (climbing up stairs, getting up from a chair, carrying groceries). Strength or resistance training will also reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries and improve bone density reducing the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Try to do strength exercises for all the major muscle groups at least 2 days per week (avoid exercising the same muscle group 2 days in a row). Some examples of strength training that can be done at home include:
- Carrying groceries
- Gripping a tennis ball
- Wall push ups
- Resistance bands
- Arm curls
- Lifting weights (you can use tins of food if you have no weights).
Endurance exercises increase breathing, heart rate and blood flow. Endurance training improves the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system, making you more resistant to conditions such as diabetes, colon and breast cancers and heart disease. Increasing your endurance can help you to keep up gardening, run around with grandchildren, walk the dog, and generally keep an active lifestyle.
Try building up to 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous endurance activity. That could include:
- Swimming or hydrotherapy
- Climbing stairs
Balance training prevents falls and fall-related injuries which are common among the elderly. Try incorporating balance training a little bit everyday. Balance activities could include:
- Tai Chi
- Standing on one foot
- Standing from a sitting position
- Walking in a straight line heel to toe
Flexibility helps us move more freely, reduces the risk of muscle strains and fractures, assists in pain management and also helps with balance. Try incorporating some light stretches before and after exercise to warm up and cool down, this will prevent injury during physical activity. You can also try:
- Tai Chi
What to do next
- Start small and start to build a routine that suits your lifestyle
- Find physical activity that you enjoy, and invite your friends along!
- If you have a health condition to think about or would just like some extra help in getting started, get in touch with us to get an assessment and support from a professional