As we grow older, it becomes increasingly important to remain active to stay healthy and maintain your independence. On average adults aged 65 and over spend 10 or more hours a day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. Interestingly, weakness and poor balance associated with old age are actually proven to be linked to inactivity, rather than old age itself.
Exercise for older people doesn’t have to mean intense workouts and just becoming a little more active can improve overall mobility significantly. Read the benefits of exercise for older adults as well as some of the best ways to exercise in later life.
Improves bone density, muscle mass and reduces the risk of falling or fracturing bones.
Regular exercise helps to increase muscle strength, bone density and coordination. This can be helpful for reducing the risk of falls as a result of increased balance. Furthermore, weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging can help to increase bone strength and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and fracturing bones if you do happen to fall. The WHO (World Health Organisation) suggest that regular exercise can reduce the risk of fracturing a hip by 40%.
Reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack and other physical diseases.
Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, increases blood flow to the heart. This makes the heart muscle stronger, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and other coronary related diseases. Studies also show that taking part in regular exercise can help benefit many chronic conditions including diabetes, high cholesterol and arthritis.
Increases overall happiness and well-being.
Staying active and taking part in some form of regular exercise not only improves your physical health, but boosts your mental health and overall well-being too.
Studies have found that of those who undertake regular exercise have a lower risk of developing depression. Moreover, increasing your physical activity also heightens your pain tolerance, and gives added peace of mind and increased confidence that you are physically fit enough for activities such as walking to the local shops alone or playing with your grandchildren.
Increases sociability, confidence and independence.
Studies examining exercise in older generations have found that regular physical activity led to improvements in functional reach and balance, and reduced participant’s fear of falling.
Furthermore, as many older people report feelings of loneliness and isolation, undertaking regular exercise such as a walk round the park is a great way to catch up with friends or meet new people. Exercise therefore greatly increases both independence and sociability.
Reduces risk of developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Despite age being a risk factor for developing dementia, evidence from the Alzheimer’s Society shows that completing regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of dementia.
One study of 716 older healthy people with an average age of 82, found that people who were in the bottom 10% of daily activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those in the top 10%.
So, what classes as regular physical activity?
The NHS guidelines suggest older people should be aiming for 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, ideally in bouts of activity which last for 10 minutes or more. A good strategy is therefore 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate this exercise requirement into your day-to-day life is to participate in a type of exercise that you enjoy, and make it a part of your routine that you look forward to.
Some of the best exercises for older adults do not have to be fancy workouts. Instead, daily activity can simply mean:
- Brisk walking.
- Cycling on a route with very few inclines.
- Bodyweight exercises such as push ups or sit-ups.
- Carrying or moving heavy loads such as shopping bags.
If you are looking to become more physically active, always remember to contact your GP first. Similarly, if you would like to increase your fitness in a welcoming and supportive environment, such as a gym or health club, we have experienced and friendly personal trainers who can create a programme specific to you and your needs. Get in touch with our friendly and experienced team today to find out more.